Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happiness Is a Warm Farm

This blog is not all about complaining, I promise. It is also about promise. Here in Brooklyn, there is much for me to complain about, but also much for me to be happy for. One thing I am happy for is the Red Hook Community Farm.

I still remember the day my husband and I accidentally found this agricultural oasis. We went walking to Ikea for god-knows-what (a step stool? a light socket on a wire? toilet bowl brush?) soon after we moved here, in October 2009. Turning the corner, after the row upon row of decrepit school busses in a parking lot, we saw it: an old ball field sprouting kale, cabbage, radish, peppers, and okra. We bought a pumpkin and carried it for over a mile to our apartment. My husband started working there shortly after on a volunteer basis.

Sunday was their second annual harvest festival, and our second annual visit to the event. We chatted with Tim the bee guy, the farm hands, and the local youth like old friends. We petted chickens and fed llamas. We drank Fauzia’s lemonade and ate fresh coconut (not local, of course). We drank in the sun and the greens and the topsoil. It’s nice after pounding the pavement to be pounding the black earth instead.

I need to volunteer here more often, like my husband. I’ve tried, I’ve gone a few times, but I don’t like being the worker under the orders of an overseer. It’s a bad attitude on my part, but I prefer to be my own boss. I just have to remember that it’s no use being one’s own boss if one doesn’t know what one is doing–this is the learning phase, and a pupil needs a teacher, after all. So I’ll be back here soon, listening to the beekeeper explain how he prepares his hives for overwintering, and helping turn under all the beautiful greens we saw yesterday.

Outlets

I live in a city. I exist in a state that can only come with living in a city: Fast, frenzied, anonymous, and self-conscious.

I take an underground train two blocks long under a river every day, and another one back, trying my hardest not to look anyone in the eye. I have become an expert at snap judgments based solely on shoes.

I shop at an upscale supermarket where the brands are all the same. The closest I come to knowing where my food comes from is peeking through the semi-transparent car wash streamers that separate the spotless laminate aisles from the dingier high-stocked shelves and dollies.

My parents came from suburban cities. Their parents fled countryside and coal mines for the suburban cities as soon as they came of age.

My clothes come from discount stores, made by small hands in small countries. My furniture comes from Ikea, my mother’s, or along the roadside on garbage day. I watch far too much internet television, and have far too few conversations. My only experience in animal husbandry is my tuxedo cat.

And yet I have a burning desire to pick up a shovel, a rake, a hoe, a trowel and dirty my fingernails tout suite. My hands cramp up without the clods of dirt they long to crumble. My back aches from the weight of too few stones to move and firewood to haul. There is a hole in my chest which I know can only be filled by a bundle of raw wool.

I have the affliction that has infected the hearts of urban-dwellers since urban lands first had dwellers: I want to return to the land.

This blog is my outlet, my memoir and manual as I attempt to rediscover what my grandparents wanted desperately to forget. It will contain my frustrations and my labors, my failures and my successes. Here’s hoping it’s a blog around for a while.