Deep Breath. The Garden is planted. The suburbanites have come and gone. Spring semester at Georgetown is complete. I’ve finally caught up on sleep. I would have loved to have been updating the project journal every day. Instead I am writing for the first time since *cough* mid-april. Ah well….
I suppose things really started cranking when I picked up the big bad truck on the 28th of April. A dear friend and I rented a car (PT CRUISER. damnitall.) and hauled up to Allentown PA to pick up the truck. It is an old work truck of my aunt and uncle’s and has been waiting to become a farm truck.
I giggled the entire three hours back to DC. I’m a small gal and I was bouncing around each time the F-250 hog hit a pebble. Truck: Check.
Two days later I was on the road to Charleston with miss tooty (my pup) in tow. She seemed a bit nervous starting out… still wearing her city-girl pants I suppose….
I arrived late and slept an hour in Charleston. (Really. An hour. I was too damn excited) At 4:30 AM I scooped up miss Emilee (suburbanite #1) and we got on the road. The drive was long and rainy. At one point we were stuck in a deluge on a bridge and our windshield wipers stopped working. That’ll get the adrenaline pumping.
Fourteen hours later….We arrive at the farm (road weary to say the least) to a candle lit dinner party under the pergola. Thank you to aunties and mothers. I cried at dinner from sleep deprivation and gratitude. We had arrived. This was the beginning.
In the morning we got straight to work. At this point the garden was a giant rectangle of dirt. Nothing else. Under the guidance of mom and Barb, we measured, staked out beds, and mulched our paths. Then (a bit dirty and tired) we charged to the airport to pick up Mark, our beloved cameraman. Mark is an old friend of mine from Chapman, a ridiculously talented photographer, and one hell of a dancer. That night we filled our glasses with wine and took a golf cart tour around the property. The fireflies were thick in the pastures and the air smelled like honeysuckle.
Tuesday was a town day. Emilee, Mark, and I spent 2 hours at Lowes, loading a big cart with rakes, shovels, hoses, an overly expensive water pump, flower seeds, a wheelbarrow, rope, buckets, and bug spray. Whew! THEN we put antifreeze in the truck. I’ll tell you, I would have REALLY liked air conditioning during my 30 HOUR DRIVE from Pennsylvania. Ah well…
Wednesday we planted sunflower seeds and mulched around a bit more. Mark managed to put together a water pump system that could probably water a 30 acre plot. I’m still giggling about our ridiculously sophisticated pump and knock-you-over water pressure.
That evening we drove to the airport to pick up Ben and Seth (suburbanites #2 and #3). Seth came first. He called me as he was walking off the plane and told me he had accidentally flown to St. Louis. I believed him. Ben came a few minutes later. He was flying in from a week in Mexico and certainly looked the part. Short nylon shorts, a sunburn, and a bottle of tequila. Hello Arkansas.
That night we got a little rowdy. Mom and Barb swore they were going to have an early night but by 11:00 pm and with a little tequila under our belts, we were all howling at the moon. That’s farm-bonding for you.
Thursday morning we were straight to work (despite our headaches) in the garden. Marie (suburbanite #4) arrived by 10 am and jumped right in. Seth retilled the beds, Ben worked on the garden gate, and the gals planted seeds and starts. Midday we took a spaghetti break and sat on the porch. When we got back to the garden, Charlie the bull had broken in and we had to painstakingly lure him out with chicken feed. (When I say we, I mean Aunt Barb…Big Charlie scares me)
Photo by Mark Samuels
That night we had another dinner party in the pergola with Mom, Barb, my Uncle Robert and my kick-in-the-pants grandmother Connie. Barb made a frittata from Connie’s garden and henhouse eggs. Plus good wine and chinese lanterns. It was delightful. We went around the table and each talked about how we became involved in the Garden Summer project. It was a wonderful thing to listen to my family and newly near and dear friends and to realize that it is all really happening. There we all were!
Photo by Mark Samuels
Friday we woke up and split into two groups. Ben, Mark and I made a run into town. Emilee, Marie, and Seth hunkered down in the garden to plant more. We all reunited over hotcakes at grandma’s house and then hit it hard again for the afternoon. That night we were tuckered out and early to bed.
We spent Saturday morning at the Argenta Farmers Market in Little Rock. It is a verified-local group with quality produce, meat, and dairy. It was heaven. We bought the fixings for our first ALL LOCAL meal. I took my mom to the airport. She was headed home to San Diego and mighty sad to leave her farmers. (a name we took to calling ourselves…) We explored town for a little bit and then headed back.
That afternoon, covered in bug spray and armed with afternoon wine, we went digging around in the woods for old pottery and glass jars. My great-great ancestor’s old homestead land is prime for digging up old bits and pieces. I am still covered in poison oak from that afternoon but boy did we find treasures…
That night we made our first local meal and took a picnic on the hill. We watched the sun go down from the overlook and toasted our last night together. We are already family.
Sunday was Mothers Day. In our Sunday best, we walked over to brunch at Connie’s with my aunts and uncles and cousins. The farmers fit right in with my crazy family. After a few mimosas it seemed like a good idea to caravan over to the cedar grove and set a dead tree on fire. All in the spirit of Mother’s Day. Hah.
In the late afternoon, I took Marie, Seth, and Emilee to the airport. It was hard to let them go. Ben, Mark and I had dinner with my various uncles and aunts and called it an early night. Around midnight a big storm rolled through and soaked our garden.
Ben and Mark left and now it’s friday. I have finally caught up on sleep and am in the thick of garden chores. My little city-girl arms are getting stronger by the day and I have a healthy farmers tan in the works. Patiently waiting for my farmers to be back in June. I’ve never felt more at peace. More later. xo
Photo by Mark Samuels