The stand may be closed at the moment, but Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. It’s not too early to be thinking sweet thoughts about your sweetie! We know from personal experience they tend to be fond of a good cinnamon roll. If your sweetie isn’t sweet enough, a couple goodies from The Open Gate Farm Bakery should do the trick. We’ll be reopening just in time, February 1st with great baked goods made with fresh and wholesome ingredients.
Until then, you can always call us and order up a loaf or two or three to tide you over. We may be on holiday, but not so distant a holiday that we or Kathryn, our stand in farmer, couldn’t find the ingredients to make you your favorite. I believe there may even be a loaf of whole wheat left this Friday from an order already booked. Call the farm if you want it! Check your challah, it may need reloading.
This is a charming time of year. The hard holidays are behind us, the new year lies before us all clean and uncommitted. Dreams and ideas begin to bud on the branches of our lives and the chickens are handling the weeding this week. This is when we haul out big sheets of paper and sharp pencils and begin laying out the new year. Or at least our plans for it. Always though with the admonition that if you want to make God laugh, make some plans. However we press on, ignoring the cosmic chuckles, and start drawing lines.
Kale. We have to really get serious about raising kale. The demand last year outstripped our hard working plants. A few of those dinosaur guys are still out there, waving their hands at passing cars. They want to be back. Probably a whole bed of them. And in this election year, life would not be complete without the white and red Russian kales shouting political statements at each other. If there is going to be a revolution in the garden, it will start with those militants. And Scotch. A late season arrival at the stand last year, those thrifty bunches actually became the most popular. Lettuce, carrots, and beets will complete the signature crop section of the garden. Then on to figuring out where to hang the beans and tuck in the squash and hide the radishes.
It’s a time of looking forward and back at the same time. Kind of like tinkering with one’s genealogy. There’s value in this. Learning that your farmer’s wife has great grandparents buried in southern Oregon only 20 miles from where your farmer has great grandparents buried is kind of neat. His had left Ohio to live with a son in the West. Both families were farmers and given the population of the area then probably knew each other. So we’ve perhaps known each other for generations apparently but had to rediscover each other in Sacramento 40+ years ago. Maybe that’s why we get along so well.
When one has an affinity, be it for the soil or the sound of music or the heart of another human or an orphan in Mexico, it is worthwhile to consider why. It could be genetic and not able to be fought off. Now that we know both our roots had dirt under the finger nails it helps us see why what we are doing comes so naturally. It explains why for us the most lost day of all is a day we don’t get outside. Even in the rain. And the wind. But not the snow. It makes it easier on trips. We know stopping at nurseries and farmer’s markets and orphanages will be on both of our to do lists.
Your farmer was raised as a Quaker (the silent ones – “Hah! Not you!” she says). And her father was raised in a Friend’s Church (the not silent Quaker side of the denomination). And so is it any wonder they share a strong faith together? Is it any wonder they find their closest friends among the gentle people of the world?
When we know these kinds of things about each other, it makes looking forward into the future more fun. It means the two of us can consider kale seriously. It means we can count on each other down to the DNA level of our faith and practice to be there, to care, to love, and to live fully with each other. It means we can face the future knowing that we’ll have help pulling any weeds that show up in the garden of life, the garden we are now planning with paper and pencil and ruler in this pause between the seasons.
In this interim between the fading holidays and the budding new year, it might be fruitful to find all you share in common with those in your life. You may discover fields of flowers that you can grow together which will tell you where your gardens should be in the year ahead. You can ask how parents and grandparents felt about fields and food and fellowship and friends. How did your grandparents feel about living where and how they did? What struggles did they have and how did they overcome them? Guessing is o.k., but your DNA may give you some hints. It’s a grand conversation. Looking at what we share builds homes, families, and communities. Focusing on differences breaks down relationships.
Let’s take some time now and build. Let’s find the common ground which can bear flowers and fruit in this new year ahead. If we do, it will be a charming year, a year of memories and joy and our futures will be the richer for it.
Jon and Elaine, the linked up farmers, Snickers the thoughtful dog, Mystery the Quakerly cat, Ben and his flock of weeding hens, and the good parson, Dudley Brown and his flock of planning ducks, all of whom live joyfully at The Open Gate Farm.