Monday, November 04, 2013

Gone for the Season

On October 24th, Grandpa Wilbur's birthday, I left the farm for the season. Brent disconnected the Mae Flower, closed up the sewer pipes, pumped out all the water and we filled 'er up with that bright pink party punch known as RV anti-freeze. The color always seemed oddly celebratory to me, usually in contrast to my mood. No matter when I leave SCRANCH, it always feels too soon.

Brent, ponders a Mae-Flower-less yard
Leaving North Dakota is always bittersweet. Mostly, I am sad to leave behind this piece of earth that has been in our family for over 90 years. I'd never really understood the pull of that connection until now. When seeing people on the news refusing to leave their homes despite an impending natural disaster, I would be baffled by their geographic loyalty. 'Fools', I'd think to myself.

Well, now I understand, though admittedly, the pull is not strong enough to keep me there for 6-7 months of serious winter. Growing up in Southern California does not prepare one for 30 below zero, it's that simple. Bullets, Botox and smog? Sure. Water freezing in mid-air? Um, NO.

Another emotion is worry. Did I do enough? Did i learn everything I could? Talk to everyone I should have? Did I listen hard enough? I may have to accept on faith that just being here with eyes and ears open was satisfactory, that I absorbed plenty.

Still, there is much fretting over 'my babies' - the resulting produce harvested with great effort and satisfaction. I write this now from a cozy spot in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I am still carrying around winter squash, watermelon, eggplant, peppers, shallots, Lakota squash, chilies, parsnips, carrots, heaps o' garlic and a few hearty well-traveled tomatoes. When packing my pick-up, Brent was impressed that the majority of my load consisted of crops I couldn't bear to leave behind, rather than the clothes, make-up and fancy shoes I'd lugged to LA the previous year. "Guess you are getting to be a real farmer now," he said.

Big open fields - another thing I'll miss
At this point, it would almost be a lie-by-omission not to mention that I fell deeply in love over the summer. We are very different people, this man and I, and our differences only sharpened the intensity of our coupling. With a two-decade age difference, we are geographical, cultural and political opposites - one, a strict German banker from small town North Dakota, and the other, a cultural liberal from Southern California. One, a fan of Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and all things Fox News, and the other, an ardent fan of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Louis CK. One attends a very traditional Lutheran church (Missouri Synod) and the other is primarily pagan; guess which one I am?

Big ass machinery - another thing I'll miss
But meeting up in the middle? Oh my, that's a sweet spot. Of course, this new development made the moment of leaving feel strangely cinematic and four times as hard. I am not one to share my personal life on the internet but I cannot help but openly marvel at how love has a tendency to color daily life in glowing, rich hues while anchoring these place-and-time memories deeper than otherwise imagined. Now there is a whole new unexpected layer to my North Dakota experience, one I will not forget. Logic be damned, the heart wants what it wants.
Tomatoes and squash

Nonetheless, the call of family, holidays and the aforementioned push of the notorious NoDak winter means I had to pack up and leave for the season. The chances I will return next spring for one more solid SCRANCH summer are about 70% right now - 30% being reserved for whatever Amazing Opportunity the Universe might decide to throw my way. Otherwise, I feel that a third and final year would complete the original intention of this project. And let's face it, I'd miss my beautiful black dirt, which is also now entrenched in my heart.

Garlic varieties for 2014: Lahonton, Music and Siberian
In a gesture of 'place holding', I even planted some garlic and shallots for next season. On a day of snow flurries, I broke up the bulbs, soaked them in kelp juice (picture Brent rolling his eyes) and popped those babies in that gorgeous Red River Valley soil. I had an amazing bounty of garlic and shallots this year - they were my biggest money maker - so I can't see myself skipping them. And you have to plant in fall so regardless of whether or not I return, they will pop up for someone to harvest and enjoy.

[Interesting side note: The percentage increase from my 2012 SCRANCH income to my 2013 SCRANCH income is 451.5% - nearly $700 more than last year! Huzzah!]

On my meanderings back to Long Beach (and the eventual jump back to my other blog, ClizBiz), I have been fortunate to stay with friends in Colorado and New Mexico. Other than my friendship and gratitude, I tried to repay their hospitality with one or more of the following homemade goodies: tomato soup, banana bread (made by the new beau), garlic, grape juice, winter squash and - time permitting - a cooked meal. Mama Iva taught me that Food = Love and my time in North Dakota has reinforced that fact.
Tomato soup!
So thank you to Helen and Annika in Denver, Bliss and Neil in Crestone and Laurianna, Wyatt and Jack in Albuquerque, for hosting the wandering farmer on her way back to the big city, or as I have come to call it, The Land Where People Lock Things.

Heading West
Long Beach, here I come!


Kath said...

You go Heather, you go! up for some company? :)


Heather Clisby said...

You planning a visit, Kath? Maybe you mean to SoCal? I'll be there through May.

Love ya'z!