Convivial (n.) From Latin convīvium (“a feast”), combined form of con (“together”) + vīvō (“to live”). 1. Of or relating to a feast or merry company 2. festive; social; jovial.
With our very first official harvest this week, I feel that the dance of our farm season has properly begun. We’ve been talking and walking through the initial steps, learning the patterns and rhythms of the farm. Now the music has started, and we try to keep up, to hold on to the enormity of the grand pattern and all the vital minutiae, weaving in and out of each other. Qayyum, our fearless farm manager, calls the steps: “Small hoes to Planting Two! Irrigators, turn on the pump! Swing your partner and plant those collards!” Sometimes we miss a step, we wander outside of our square, and our friends laugh and pull us back in, patiently and joyfully. Emila, our fierce and lovely farm elder, dances in quiet, graceful efficiency—she knows this dance and this soil intimately. Together we all move in the breathtakingly beautiful absurdity of being human.
Despite this first harvest being a very small one (only a few boxes for the season’s first Mill Valley Farmer’s Market), I felt like the very embodiment of abundance, moving down the row with an exuberant cascade of green kale bouquets balanced from the very top of my head, down over my shoulder and right arm. With the mist hanging low and soft over the fields, in the warmth of my wool sweater, only two words sat quietly in my mind; “Yes please.”
Our formidable friend, the blue heron has been taking full advantage of the proliferation of gophers. Like an international man of mystery, he coolly saunters through the kitchen garden—tall, handsome and impeccably clad in his slate-blue suit—listening to the whispers beneath the earth. He strikes suddenly and ruthlessly, at ease in his natural role as gopher assassin. We farmers feel compassion for the gophers, but for the sake of the frisée, we appreciate our elegant ally.
I’m beginning to recognize the different varieties of lettuce, like getting to know new friends–the soft speckled redness of Mottistone, the delicate paleness of Panisse. At night, sometimes I dream of stretching out in the burgundy crushed-velvet beds of Rouxai lettuce, sung to sleep by coyotes and owls and the brontide of the sea.
In solidarity and conviviality.