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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Seven boxes

I was out at Soil Born Farm today, where I volunteer one day a week. It is that time of year when everything is full fruit, and much of it is very ready to be harvested. When I arrived at the farm, Guy, my partner in garden crime handed me a pair of clippers, and led me down a path overgrown with cucumber vines under which nestled bucket after bucket of three varieties of cucumbers. Lemon cucumbers are round and look vaguely like miniature yellow and white marbled watermelons on the outside. I slipped on my gloves and got to work pulling vines up and peering underneath, yellow globes hiding underneath the prickly leaves, resting against the warm earth, sunshine and pale green leaf-shadow dancing across the bed. These particular cucumbers are perfectly ripe when they are mostly white, with just a pale yellow glow radiating out from one end of the fruit. Most of ours were over-ripe -- the result of Guy being far too busy to keep up, and his not having enough volunteers to be able to monitor the fruit as it swells beneath the canopy of vine cover. After sorting through the piles of yellow cucumbers, we hauled the over-ripe ones to the green compost and emptied bucket after bucket into the pile. When we were done we moved onto the Syrian cucumbers--long, ridged, pastel green cucumbers that look so delicate and proper that they seem far more English than Syrian. After the Syrian cucumbers we harvested the deep green field cucumbers, and then on to the bumpy, melted wax bright orange-yellow squash, and then the gigantic zucchinis which had clearly been growing so long that they looked more like stone-age clubs than anything that could possibly be edible.

Done with the massive zucchini, I moved on to the peppers while Guy harvested potatoes. I have never grown peppers before, and they are a humbling vegetable to be sure -- especially the green bell peppers and the jalepinos, because they blend right in with the plant, making harvest a real hunt. In addition to the green peppers, I harvested banana peppers (which, you might have guessed, look exactly like bananas), chocolate peppers (which like look similar to bell peppers, only much smaller, that turn a lovely melted chocolate colour as they ripen), and some bright orange wrinkled peppers whose name slips my mind now. When I had them all in their box, they were a bright, Autumn-hued collage.

After the peppers Guy let me do what my fingers had been wanting to do all day -- harvest some tomatoes. We have beautiful cherry tomato vines climbing up trellises, but there are also a number of larger tomato varieties that I had been noticing swelling bright crimson beneath the thick layer of foliage.

These tomatoes are gorgeous friends. Sun-ripened, smelling of sunshine and that sharp, invigorating smell that tomato plants grown outside ooze like honey. It was hard to not sink my teeth into one (although Guy kindly gave me a few to take home which I fully intend to sink my teeth into over the next few days!)

The larger tomatoes were hard to find -- most of them were hidden deep inside the vine, so I searched with my hands, pulling out bright red fruit after bright red fruit -- the colour alone was dazzling in the afternoon sunshine.

I am telling you. You would have been drooling...

It made me want to make insalata caprese with fresh basil and Mozzarella di bufala, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with coarse sea salt crystals.

While I was drooling over the tomatoes, Guy was hard at work harvesting carrots. Many of our carrots suffered from not having been thinned very well (for which I take full responsibility, since I started the job and then never managed to get around to completing it), but we were very happy to see that some of my thinning efforts did pay off, as he managed to find a good number of well-sized carrots in the rows, which made him exceptionally happy. This is what Guy looks like when he is exceptionally happy:

Ok. So as he pointed out, I need to discover the zoom, but this is Guy looking exceptionally happy from a distance, with our gorgeous youth garden all around him (which you would not see as much of if I had discovered the zoom before snapping this shot!)

I had to take off early, but I heard from Guy later today that he washed up everything we harvested, and made seven boxes of fresh produce, which he delivered to seven lower income families in the area. He said they were really psyched to receive the boxes. Very excited to receive all this fresh, tasty food. The image of their joyful faces makes me so. incredibly. happy. 

I did a few other things today that I did not get photos of. The best thing, that I wish I had taken photos of, was my visit with my friend Dionne and her gorgeous son Lucas. We sat on her living room floor and said prayers together, and studied Ruhi Book 2, which totally transformed my day for the better. We also took a walk around McKinley Park, beneath the huge oak trees in the late afternoon sunlight, trying to lull Lucas into a deep sleep (it worked, but only temporarily).

This evening I had a delicious supper with my parents, using some of the freshly harvested ingredients from the farm. It has been a day of bright colours, divine aromas, good company and sunshine, and I am looking forward to a very full weekend of service. I am heading down to Santa Cruz to learn how to facilitate a group of 24 Junior Youth who are in the redwood forest for the weekend. I love working with youth -- mainly because it is deeply humbling, and I learn SO much from them, and at the same am forced to grow beyond what I think I am capable of. I am looking forward to the challenge, and to meeting lots of new, radiant souls.

Whatever you are up to this weekend, may you enjoy it fully, friends. I hope you have a weekend saturated with colour, flavours, friends, laughter, and blue skies!

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