As farmer-in-training at Spirit Hill, I have learned that whatever I plant is as much the birds’ and the animals’—deer, turkeys, chickens, moles, gophers, birds, insects, for example—as it is mine.
Growing things at Spirit Hill is a good exercise in non-attachment. Hello, three sunflower plants I bought at Harmony and love so much. Hello, birds, that peck and peck at your blossoms and leaves until you look like a lacey, beat-up version of the sunny plant you once were just last week.
Hello, Armenian cucumber plant I was so excited to feast on in a few weeks’ time. Hello, chicken that got lose when the tree fell on your house. I’m so glad you are full now. Thank you for jumping into the raised bed and tearing it all apart so there is room for new growth while helping yourself to lunch. You’re lucky I’m a vegetarian this week.
There are two blueberry plants tucked behind the raised garden beds, and for some reason the brazen birds totally missed it this season and the guests got to eat every ripe berry, I think.
I have perfected the art of both under- and over-watering at the same time, and so some of the plants—the peppers and squashes in particular—are yellowing and confused. Should we live or die? Are we drowning or parched? Is this the life our parents lead? Why did no one warn us about this wild wet/dry world?
I could get Victory Garden on the whole thing and put wire around the beds and learn more about soil and nutrients and water, but let’s remember the farmer-in-training part. The part where really no one is training me except for the plants and the animals that eat them, and somehow it seems more right and just to play the game, to lose some to the forces that be because then the plants I get to keep—and there are a lot of them because I love for guests to be able to stroll around the garden beds and pick snap beans and pull carrots and eat salad greens out of hand—seem that more precious.
Eating precious early in the morning out of hand is a lovely experience. Crunch crunch goes the lettuce leaf, and your body, surprised you are eating salad as the sun rises, thanks you, and it asks for more.
And then there is this:
Go to Wildflour bakery and get a loaf of their rosemary garlic bread. Go to Andy’s Market and get some local pecans.
Come back to SHF, gather greens from the garden along with a few arugula flowers and then mosey over to the chicken coop for a couple of eggs.
Wash the greens, spin them dry, and drizzle our olive oil and some vinegar on top and, if you like, a nice sprinkle of salt. Toss and put on a plate or in a bowl.
Get a pan and coat it generously with olive oil and fry up a hunk of the bread on both sides as you also toast the pecans and cook the eggs, all in the same pan.
When the eggs are cooked to your liking, slide everything on top of the greens and then go—where? The chairs outside the side of the house where you can look over the vineyard and watch the hawks and crows and ride the breezes? Poolside? By the firepit? At the big dining room table?