I am cold and wet and tired, and I am running.
The legs of my jeans are soaked through and caked with about an inch of mud. Each one of my muck boots has a crack at the big toe where, with each down step, an ooze of muddy water seeps in. My sweatshirt is filthy, and I can feel dried flecks of mud crack on my cheeks as I scrunch my face up to keep water out of my eyes.
I should mention that I’m also belting “Dancing with Myself” at the top of my lungs as I tear through the wet field. Because you need to know that I am enjoying all of this. Keith would kill me right now, I think to myself, watching my boot sink another couple inches into the path between the rows I am planting. He hated us walking on wet fields, compacting the soil. But sometimes these things just can’t be helped. My windows of opportunity to do field work – especially work that won’t require me to water in transplants with the tank on the back of my truck, are truly limited. It has been so dry, and the seedlings haven’t been too excited to be hanging out and growing in the field. But they are drinking this up.
It’s been raining since midnight. I’m stoked. For days I have been filling this giant white 275-gallon water tank ¼ of the way up on the back of my truck and driving out to the fields to do work and water. So I look like this giant camel-turtle monster truck riding around the Lehigh Valley. It’s unfortunate and not super-efficient, and I’ve been doing it as sparingly as possible, but we are still well-less and the soil on the slope is well-draining and dries out even quicker from the wind we’ve had. So you work with what’s been dealt.
This morning I got up and by 6:30am had ordered my much-needed exhaust fan for the greenhouse and several boxes of tomato twine. I seeded in the greenhouse, prepped for some work later and headed off to the field for the day.
Okay. I have an hour to pack up, drive home, un-mud, unpack, shower, eat and get to my retail job. No problem. I throw my boots in the back (realizing only too late that I’ll now have to get out in my socks to close my gate), strip out of my muddy jeans and toss them back there too (I’ve been wearing shorts underneath my work clothes for just such occasions), and roll out. I switch between rewinding the Billy Idol tape for “Dancing With Myself” a couple more times and the two local pop stations. There is something really fun about being a short, muddy lady driving around in a beat-up Chevy and blasting Taylor Swift’s angry break-up songs or some other party girl specials Something I could never really have appreciated until this moment in my life.
Chelsea, my only female cohort from Keith’s last year, called from Africa while I was down in the dirt. Talking to her while I dumped soil amendments into holes and planted was almost like being back in New York after she arrived on the scene. She loves her job and her dog and her life, and it was incredible to catch up with her. She referred to me as “crazy,” the second former coworker to do so (Derek called me that several times as The Tomato Boys and I planted potatoes with no tractor help Saturday) – soooooo I’m taking it as a compliment. I do feel crazy some of the time, but the satisfaction after hours outside and seeing what I can do alone totally outweighs that scared, flying-without-a-net feeling. Most of the time.
Thankfully, I’ve reconnected with some local friends that have been nothing short of miraculous. They take me to the movies and to grab beers and text me questions like “How long has it been since you’ve seen people?” They offer to help build things and work. I am trying to balance being a sociable adult with work, and last week proved I could do it – if you count twelve hours of sleep last night to catch up as an acceptable trade-off. Oh, and did I mention my awesome boss Ed is letting me sell plants at the store?
“Mony Mony” starts and I hit rewind on the tape. Again. We planted the Carola and Mountain Rose potatoes Saturday, followed by lunch at the ’50s diner down the road. So that’s lettuce, arugula, kales and chards, endive, mesclun patches, sorrel, herbs, beets, sweet corn, flowers, spinach, garlic, set onions and spring turnips in the ground right now. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my move to Keith’s Farm last year, and it was nice to lounge about and have a couple root beers in the field with folks who knew me as “the new girl.” I could never go back to the lifestyle of that farm, but I’ll always be grateful for what I learned there in and out of the field.
Okay, wolf down the cold pizza, unload empty trays, take a shower and go. Tonight I’m going to try out SquareSpace.com and make a website. Tomorrow is the dairy and more rainy farming. Can’t wait to see my lady boss and the cows and can’t wait to roll around in the mud again. And then off to the Extension organic vegetable class trip to Liberty Gardens in Coopersburg. Rinse and repeat.
If you had told me then where I would be now…well, I might have believed you. But only just.
“As we get older every day feels longer, and although I know I’ll struggle I will do my best to never get tired.” – Jeff Rosenstock, Bomb the Music Industry