Spring, the great tease, has pretended, fairly or unfairly, to arrive. Oh, it is a chilly day, but not really cold, bearing a pale blue sky, some sun, clouds whipping into one another. I was given some Greek soup made with the meat of one of my lambs. It was delicious. A word not spoken often enough to describe food of late. Oh, we use a lot of other kinds of words. Words that mechanize one of the most common pleasures. Fast. Easy. Simple. They come most often to mind. And the one I dislike the most. Healthy. Healthy describes to me, at least, tasteless, boring, an obligatory concern of self righteous, oh, I could go on and on. Whatever became of delicious? “Eat your …… It is good for you.” Why eat it? When eating becomes a moral issue. A chore. A political statement. A way to feel superior to those lesser mortals who eat different kinds of foods, less politically correct.
I was asked yesterday by a visitor where she could buy some foods from local farmers. Milk. Eggs. Cheese. She wanted to “support” local farms. The first thought that came to my mind was the time she would be taking from a farmer’s day to stop what he or the possibly she, from his or her word to go to his bulk tank, were if legal, to sell her a gallon of milk. It is fashionable to think one is supporting local farmers. But not necessarily practical in the farmer’s life. I have been selling lambs of late. It is the season for me to do that. And I have been encountering some of the newer type of customer. They ask, some of them, for a twenty-five pound lamb. Where they hear about weights mystifies me. Dead or alive, I ask. And get a stunned silence every time. “Oh, dressed”, they answer. Someone bought a lamb wanting a twenty to twenty-two pound dressed weight. They thought it “looked” like less when home. Brought back a scale. It weighed twenty and a half pounds. However, they also wanted the head, skinned of course, the liver, kidney, heart, testicles and, in a separate bag, the intestines in case they wanted to clean and use them. Therefore, there was an additional three or four pounds to that if skinned and cleaned carcass. Did they get twenty and a half pounds or twenty four or five pounds? Furthermore, I don’t have a legal scale. Who does? I never assign a weight to my lambs or kids. It has proven to be an indeterminate figure at best. A lamb I bought from a friend to sell to another friend, looked bigger than mine but skinned, weighed on friend number one’s scale, was smaller than any of mine. And, last of all, the complaint I got today was, while the weight was good my lamb wasn’t fatty. They were used to fatty lambs. In the final analysis, I sold all I wanted to sell. Some late born ones will go for Memorial Day or for the Feast of the Ascension of the Virgin in August. It went well this year. Oh, the last token of amusement came from the women customers who wanted to know if my lambs were grass fed. “There is no grass” was my reply. I can never be accused of being fashionable. Conservative, yes, as a farmer at least. But politically correct, no, in principle, yes on rare occasions.
I just realized the date. To my horror it may be too late, again, to order my Cipollini onions and my leeks from Texas. I seem to remember my supplier being out of Cipollinis in April last year. Growing a garden has been the last thing in my mind. Cooking has all but stopped here. The oven has been broken for a very long time, and while I may regain the hot water this week, having the mechanics for cooking has been different. It was being reminded of the date that brought me up short in regard to both onions and leeks. Last year I was uncertain about whether I wanted to continue living here or not. I had set a date, actually a year and a half ago, October 16, 2012 to decide whether I was going to check it all or not. I had decided to not worry about it, rather give myself a cutoff date and see what happened. By October 16, enough had occurred to encourage me to stay. To seal my fate for that winter at least. For some inexplicable reason, even after this winter, which was devastating for me, I am not debating the issue. To stay or not doesn’t seem to be a question. It would seem I am staying. Although where I shall find the courage does remain to be seen. God’s will.
A very interesting new element has entered my life. I have been having the good fortune to be meeting, for the first time, a number of Greek people. When first moving to New York I lived in a neighborhood comprised of, on one end of the Avenue, Italians and the other end, Ukrainian Poles. While the food I usually prepare is French, countryside French, of late, a little touch of Great Britain, experience has never brought me across the Mediterranean to Greece. The man who has been driving me to my little part time job, has been lecturing me on matters of history, religion and culture. It is a fascinating new world for me. I’ve even learned the required greeting to be exchanged every morning for the first forty days after Easter. A Greek woman whom I met yesterday told me of her and her husband’s dream of buying land up here to create a “sustainable” farm. To me, sustainability went out the window when horses were replaced by tractors. A horse can reproduce itself. A tractor can’t. Therefore one is always pouring money into something that cannot sustain itself. Review Adam Smith. One of my very favorite books, The Wealth of Nations I don’t know of any farms where at least one of the people owning it or living on it doesn’t have a job to provide health insurance and “running money”. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any that are subsidized by off the farm income. It just means I don’t know of any. The irony of it all is the man who drives me to this little partnership job owns a farm on an island in Greece that is virtually abandoned. As are most of the small farms in his village. On one side of the great pond is land, some buildings, and people who have a dream of buying property on which to make a farm. On the other side are many abandoned farms wishing someone would come and take care of them.
I come from New London, Connecticut, the Whaling City. The great ships once sailed into our harbor carrying whales and cargo from places as far off as China. How often had I wondered, sitting by the Thomas River at the edge of the Sound, whatever has become of those people who somewhere in their bones and muscles and hearts belong on board these great ships, sales furling, the wind and the sea filling the air around them. The people who once hungered for the sea. Do they know now what it is that they now hunger for, were made to be able to do? How many years ago did the last whaler sail into New London Harbor? Long ago for men to forget what their dreams were? Here are only a generation away from those villages in Greece. Short a time enough to still know of what they are longing. I think they do. It is part of the human tragedy.
This morning was the first in many mornings that I felt like getting up. I usually don’t. Feel like it, that is. Oh the room was a 50 degree one. The same as the afternoon in January. A bit warmer than the winter’s 45 degree morning. That couldn’t have done it. Some work was promised to be done here today. I actually believe it will be. That may contribute to it. However, the work I have to do to be ready for it remains to be formidable. Therefore that couldn’t be it. Perhaps the icy grip this winter has held upon my heart and soul is melting. I’m not sure. It almost seemed glacier like, from which I never could recover. All of my life I have had the gift of seeing what was lovely in a given day. That gift remains. But I still see what is not lovely as well. And much of that is due to my own failings. When I was a child I used to say this is a day the Lord has made. Who I am is what I do with it. I did, today, get up sooner rather than later.
Until the next time.
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