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Pans and Perspective

You provide the food and I will provide the perspective." – Anton Ego, 2007

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compost

Magnifying the Magnificence of the Mundane

Imagine…

The crisp air lightly brushes against my skin. Rays of the afternoon sun beam down with glorious intensity bathing me in a contrast of deep warmth. Each step through the lawn is met by the gentle rustle of grass under foot, almost like a broom running across an old wood floor. With each step creatures, beautiful and unique in design, bellow forth to escape the oncoming assault to their once serene resting place. I reach the old worn wooden gate, paint peeling from its many days standing watch over the bounty housed just behind. It creaks gently as it is pushed open, moaning from arthritis in its hinges. The timid robin flutters away, each wingbeat reverberating through the air to create a soft rumbling. Welcome to the garden.

Intricate plots of seedlings push forth from the Earth, woven amongst patches of dirt and weeds, delicately swaying in the breeze, creating a surreal quilt surpassing the second dimension. I slowly walk across the grass paths, savoring each step among the culmination of our work. The grass abruptly transitions to earth which gently depresses as I waltz across the tilled ground towards my objective. I pull my yellow leather gloves from my back pocket and little bursts of dust and dirt liberate themselves from the mass of their caked-on brothern. As I split my hands into them the crust continues to crack resembling the ground to my left that offers the beans a chance at life. I grab the black tarp and gently pull it off the pile. Some of it disintegrates in my hands into black ribbons. A myriad of organisms come to life as the sun pierces into the once darkness. Prehistoric insects scuttle across the compost into crevices and earthworms writhe, like oiled spaghetti in a dish, before descending into the mass of decay.

I grab my manure fork, my senior by countless years, rust encasing each tine creating a brilliant gradient of rich brown tones before fading into a brilliant sheen at each tip. A quick thrust into the compost produces fleeing arachnids and a cacophony of crackling branches. Each matted scoop permits a resounding thud as it slowly fills the wheelbarrow. Again, again, and again. The air looms with the aroma of old leaves, rich earth and the slightest hint of fungus. I spear the fork back into the earth; it juts out like a piece of giant silverware in a chunk of chocolate cake. I tilt the wheelbarrow forward as it releases a quiet grown, vocalizing my sentiments as well. I push the load across the lawn with little resistance to its final resting place. I tip the wheelbarrow forward, rocks clatter against the metal and the compost scrapes out onto the ground. A collection of neat nodes of compost create an invisible line. I spread it in rows, new beds for the future. In the distance David pulls the cord to bring the tiller to life. A quick snap pierces the air proceeded by a flurry of colorful commentary. I look up from my work to see David scolding the tiller as if it were a misbehaved child. The simple task of setting up planting beds had no been brought to a screeching halt in only 15 minutes.

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Week 6: Its Begining to Look a lot Like Springtime

Check out this quick post for some updates to Pans and Perspective!

David has aptly named the month of May and June spring planting. We began the week at the hospital garden. Our full crew, David, Ellis, Birte and myself, spent the day on cleanup in the garden. Some of it involved shoveling excess dirt away from the paths. We tore through the work and left soon after. Ellis and Birte ran some errands in town while David and I tilled Raul’s, a friend of David, garden. When we got back I tested a pavlova recipe and found a great website for tips on making it. We enjoyed an evening of leftovers and waited with anticipation to see how the pavlova turned out. The next day I hustled down the stairs and pulled open the oven to see what it looked like. I let out a defeated “Damn!”, because the merignue had cracked and deflated by 25 percent. But it was still the best version I have ever executed. I took some notes for future corrections and I am excited to give it another go. This quest for a perfect pavlova has a long story for another time. David and I made another trip to the hospital to finish up a segment of the beds. It involved tilling and mulching the beds before actual transplanting could happen. When we finished we returned to Pepperfield for a quick lunch and then transitioned to our garden. After many wheelbarrows of manure we were prepped to do some more transplanting. I spent the better half of my afternoon up to wrists in dirt and compost. Dinner was a repeat but our dessert was the pavlova served with fresh whipped cream and local berries from last years harvest. It was fantastic.

Wednesday brought profuse rains and I spent most of my day indoors. I got ahead for the week and prepared egg salad and a bacon vinaigrette. I ate my lunch and took a much needed nap that lasted for too long. Nevertheless, I woke up quite rested so I jumped on a tomato sauce for meals for the week. Thursday was spent back at the hospital with more transplanting. David and I returned for lunch and afterward I took off with Ellis for some store runs. I got back a couple of hours later and finished up a few tasks here on the farm as I was greeted by and early evening rain. The evening evolved into taco making and preparation of a sourdough starter. The next day I awoke to the pattering of rain against my window. The better part half of my morning was spent working on tasks for Pans and Perspective. My day slowly melded into recipe testing as I made my sourdough loaves and a corn gateau which – like a true shoemaker – I overcooked into a monstrosity I came to call as corn rock. One of Pepperfield’s acquaintances, Gloria, joined us for a dinner of venision chili. Later in the evening, our bed and breakfast guests arrived for the weekend. I closed out my evening with Michael Pollan’s, Cooked, as I drifted off to sleep.

Saturday commenced with a lesuirely breakfast with our overnight guests. David ran off early to aquire some wood chips for mushroom propogation and I helped shovel them into place. We spent the rest of the morning in the gardens and called it an early day. Our afternoon and evening was spent at Decorah’s innagural pride parade. I have never attended an event like this but I was glad I could offer my support and it was thoroughly enjoyable. We skipped the post parade festivities and had a relaxed evening. Sunday was much a repeat of the day prior. We enjoyed a long breakfast with great conversation and followed it by a morning in the garden setting up more planting beds. We took a quick break for lunch and then followed suit with the same cadence at the hospital garden. The weather was perfect and after a quick stop at David’s neighbor’s farm, I returned home just on cue for wine time. A few of David’s friends stopped by to check out the skunk cabbage bog and we met up. Dinner was late and I called it early night after a busy week.

Check back later in the week for recipe updates from week six as well as some other cool posts!

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