August 20th, 2009

Good Light

I was spun out from this familiar place last week, on location elsewhere as a photographer, and in the carbon-fueled hassle of plane and rental car travel felt completely unhinged from the goings-on of the farm.But Daisy took good care of chickens and cats and the greenhouse, Heidi weeded and harvested, Miles helped with compost. The little farm trundled on fine without me.


Supper in the garden, umbrellas on stand-by.

I flew in to New York shaking off the usual thunderstorms, and returned before dawn just as the sky began to slowly unfold, blue over black, and the night-lustered scent ofnicotiana was releasing itself into the still air over the farm.

Wakefulness at this hour is magical. From years of shooting gardens for books and magazines, I’m familiar with the secret, transitory beauty of twilight. The world seems to hold its breath, insect legs stop their determined rasping, and birdsongs have yet to be summoned by any indication of morning.

Then the day comes, and there is the usual damage assessment after a storm: The tight purse of the soil again pummeled into a swill by rain, the folds and clefts made by hoes and thoughtful hands all leveled, the tomatoes in a sad, rain-spilt tangle, the small-by-nature varieties of pepper and eggplant – confused by the inconstant weather – reduced to props for my daughter’s American Girl doll.

And despite all that, a smile. The Buddhists tell you that only by leaving your home can you know it for the first time. Knowing this place, with all of its quirks and provocations, is a gift.

Heidi reminds me of that. She reminds me not to become a grumpy farmer, grousing on about apocalyptic weather and the latest Book-of-Revelations pest that’s decided to stop by, and to find the good light (use a photography metaphor and he’ll understand…)

That night, we tossed a big harvest salad ofmesclun greens and loose-leaf lettuce, sweetened with sun-warmed greenhouse grapes, and made fresh pesto with skewer grilled eggplant and pepper. We ate in the garden as the little hens wandered aimlessly about our feet, and – with little effort – found the good light, filtering through the apple trees. - mb

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