Archive for August, 2010

8-28-10

August 28, 2010

The date of our Autumnal Equinox potluck has changed.  It will be on Sunday, September 26, at 3 PM.  Sorry for any inconvenience.  

Notes from the Field  

I’ve written and erased and written and erased this newsletter several times over the last few weeks.  I struggled to find a way to be non-whiney, to beam a bright light through a dreary attitude.  But the heat kept coming, crops and chickens were dying, and visions of weather dystopias swam through my sweaty brain.   

Today is the 100th day in a row of high temperatures above 80, a new record already.  The hottest June on record.  July was the fifth hottest month ever.  August was oppressively brutal up until a week ago.  Meteorologists are already calling this the hottest June-July-August in history for the Louisville area, making 2010 just the latest record-breaking year.   

We have been most fortunate this Summer—with all its soul-sapping heat—to get frequent storms with quenching rains.  The scene would be truly nightmarish had the rain quit coming.  

Still, the punishing heat wave has plenty taken its toll.  Summer-planted Fall crops are nearly a complete failure.  Many cool-weather crops will not germinate in such extreme temperatures.  Because of the withering weather, I planted our late cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower one night until 12:30 AM.  I headed out early the next morning with a rain barrel and a garden hose and watered each of the 1000 plants.  I then covered them with row cover to protect from the predatory insects.  As this Summer would have it, the plants all burned up and died despite my best efforts.  Sometimes a great amount of work is repaid with naught.  

I love farming, but August is rarely a bowl of peach tomatoes.  When I am at my most vulnerable is certain to be when an ungodly swarm of sweat bees arrives and stings me all the way down the row, while a raccoon throws half-eaten ears of corn at me and a cloud of hornworms and flea beetles darkens the sky as if night.   

When the world becomes such a flock of pigeons above one’s head, at some point we must burst to our better senses.  The tragedy of our woebegone lives finally flips rightside up, and the great antidote is comedy.  I am the three stooges in one body.  I laugh.  It is all fast-passing, and it is all one.  Soon this sweltering Summer will be a memory, a story to share with our children.  

Thanks many times to those who have lent their time and encouragement and enjoyment to the effort this year.  Working shares have been wonderful, going extra hours, making marvelous meals, suffering and swearing and laughing alongside, along for the ride.  They’ve tolerated my grumpiness and longgoneness with loving grace.  Special thanks to John Bruggman, who has been steady and sure as the sun, volunteering two full days a week on the farm and manning the Wednesday morning pick-up.  Can’t imagine this Summer without John.  

As production slims down, we are grateful for all the grace and generosity that has meant so many healthy harvests so far.  Although we may hobble to the finish line, we did for another time bask in the glory of Summer bounty.  And thanks be for that.  

Notes from the Classroom  

Many a veteran teacher has given me the same look—expressing a sentiment known only to the duly initiated (which doesn’t yet include me)—when recalling the first year of teaching.  I can only imagine it means something like, “Well, thank heavens I don’t have to do that again…but somehow it’s made me the teacher I am now.”  Like some real-world fraternity, where the hazing is all worth it…eventually.   

In the last two weeks, I have realized how pitifully my classes prepared me for the classroom, how much there is to learn, and how slowly and patiently I will have to learn it.  It is tempting to think that just another hour (or two) spent at school or on schoolwork will somehow speed the process along.  Given that temptation, I am finding it difficult to balance the rest of life—of which there is so much—with teaching.  I’m doing about half as well as I’d like at getting home at a reasonable hour and being prepared for the days ahead at school.  But I could be doing worse!  The 160 students (about half are freshmen) are mostly sweet and I’m getting to know them poco a poco.  Hopefully they’re learning a little Spanish, too.    Thanks to all of you for your kindness through this transition.

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