The same difference


Welcome to 2016, Kentucky, Henry County, A Place on Earth. If you’ve been reading these newsletters for some time, or if you’ve been gardening for some time or paying close attention to the weather, you will not be surprised to hear that it is too wet, or it was too dry, or the wind blew too hard, or the deer or slugs or etc. While food at large has lost most of its story—it sits there like it should on a shelf or plate—here you will find that each harvest, each season, each bite is the result of an epic saga, told now for so many thousands of years of human history. The fields are alive with the sound of new, yet familiar, music. Here you will find good reason to love the food you consume, because no one, anywhere, at any time, has enjoyed the exact same stuff.

So it has been irremediably wet for three weeks now. We’ve done what we can mudding plants and seeds in, weeding where we can as best as we can, but the rain has come most every day. And whereas one can water when things are dry, we have yet to figure out how to unwater when things are wet. We stalk wee windows of opportunity like cats do mice, but there’s little more we can do. A year ago, faced with a strangely dry spring, we feared the coming drought of all droughts. There’s a wry humor that rules the universe, because just a few weeks later we were wondering whether the monsoon season would ever end. Ah, farming.

We vacillate from pole to pole, and, scientists warn us, we had better expect even more drastic, bipolar weather in the years to come. It’s a wild ride. We’ll relate to you the story of the seasons as time allows, but, just as we do our best, do your best to appreciate what comes as it comes. No one (even Kroger, though it seems such a sure thing) can guarantee those strawberries or tomatoes or sweet potatoes. But they usually find a way, come what may, hell or high water. Our greatest success is when you have no idea how impossible the journey was, how ludicrous the heroic acts were, how under-deserved or over-deserved the harvest was. Do know, however, that it’s not a given; we don’t necessarily reap what we sow.

I’d like to start the season (and middle and end it) with a large helping of thanks to those who share the work with us, most especially those who pitch in at this place on earth. So many unacknowledged actions go into keeping us fed and alive. It is easy to forget when food is just a product purchased, but for each calorie consumed there is some amount of sweat and blood shed. Perhaps someday human beings will be sustained purely by computer and pill. Until then, though, actual people give of themselves to make it happen.

And lest I leave out a huge population, I’d also like to thank the unseen and anonymous people around the world who toil in pain for the rest of us to eat. Soon we’ll pick strawberries for many hours in a day. Imagine, if you can, the people who spend every day hunched over, working as fast as possible, homeless, sometimes futureless, to fill up the nearly countless quarts stocked on countless shelves. They deserve dignity.

Finally, thank YOU for putting your money where your mouth is, for caring and connecting. Whatever the challenges that arise, we stand a much better chance of rising to the occasion when we share both the burden and delight. Let us keep enriching these relationships.

The Same Difference

Every year I write

and every year experience further informs the truth:

every year is different.

Except of course the uncontradicting paradox

that every year is the same in its reiteration of difference.

The great preacher of Ecclesiastes

(“nothing new under the sun”)

was right—but only half-right.

One could look through eternity,

back beyond the solar system and such,

and not find a perfect replication of any year,

or however time is told.

Same range of characters, same possibilities of weather, same patterns,

same motifs, motives and morals.

Unique arrangements.

Sometimes nothing is under the sun

and the sun shines stark and true.

Sometimes clouds are under the sun

and we get wet and weary.

Everything and nothing is new—

Ah, Love, to one another let us be true.

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