Snapshots

Slice of Paradise: Snapshots of Pickles and Swimming and Everything Nice

I promise, cross my heart to die, that real recipes are making their way onto these webpages. Just not right now. Right now I am reveling in the slice of heaven that I’ve been lucky enough to experience the last couple of weeks. First off, it’s beautiful. I think we’ve established that. But goodness, is it BEAUTIFUL. It’s green and lush and the sky feels like your idea of what a sky should be like (expansive and dazzling and painfully blue). Every morning I thank my lucky stars as I bike over to the farm and feel that rush of cold morning air.

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And the food. The FOOD. I like to fancy that I always eat pretty well, but nothing compares to fresh produce. Especially if you’re the one to go out, pick it, prepare and eat it within the hour. Baby salad greens, young and tender chard, the first cuttings of herb plants…May isn’t even known for its bounty, yet I feel like I’m eating in excess!

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It doesn’t hurt either that Flip is really into food preservation. But we’re not talking your basic canned tomatoes here (though she certainly does that as well). We’re talking garlic scape pickles, sweet Jerusalem artichoke coins, and live-fermented daikon slivers (those are the light yellow things on my plate below). I’m hooked like an unlucky fish, I tell you. Pickles at every meal. Pickles all the time!

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There’s something enormously satisfying about waking up every day and doing some sort of physical work. I never go to bed feeling useless, because I know exactly what I did that day. I planted a hundred tomato plants. I mulched a field. I dug three $100 holes. I’m tired and sore, but I sleep well and food actually tastes better, because I’m not just hungry when I eat it. I’m ravenous. A couple of days ago we transplanted sweet bell peppers and eggplant into the Duchess Garden, and every single time I sank one of those little plants into the ground, I enjoyed the thrill of feeling soft, rich earth and new life beneath my hands.

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Never was my fortune more apparent than yesterday, when we spent all morning unrolling straw bales in the hot sun (no, that’s not the fortunate part, I haven’t quite lost my mind yet). Afterwards we biked down to their camp on the river and jumped in for a quick refresher. Which it most certainly was, the river being flooded with icy cold water. But let me say: when you’re hot and sweaty and frankly, rather unattractive, nothing beats jumping into arctic water. Add to that a handful of frozen wild strawberries and an excellent book and you have perfection personified.

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