I’ve been all over the place this summer, from Anchorage to Boston to Brattleboro to Midcoast Maine to Fox Hollow Farm, and if you’ve tried to get in touch with me, I’m so sorry. I’ve been awful at phone calls and emails and every other kind of contact. I miss the routine solitude of my life in the village.
Nicole, I am so bummed I missed you in Anchorage. My old phone was very dead around that time and by the time I replaced it and figured out how to check my voicemail on the new machine, you were long gone. Cathy, I’ll give you a call this week and we’ll set up a visit in Maine.
My struggle with communication is just one way I’ve been having trouble adjusting to summer. I was on the T the other day in Boston and I just couldn’t shake the thought: People do this every day. I can’t believe people do this every day.
I know I’m spoiled. In the village, I almost never have to sit on my butt just to get from place to place. I absolutely never have to sit on my butt in a dank-smelling, grubby metal tube full of strangers.
I know the city has its perks: Sean has been taking sailing lessons, going to the art museum, and hosting ice cream socials (Margarita sorbet? Wasabi maple ice cream anyone?). There are restaurants, theaters, intriguing strangers and old friends.
Old friends are the best.
Boston is full of folks from college and from Arkansas. It’s so strange and wonderful to be surrounded by people I’ve known for such a long time.
Bethan gave an incredibly powerful and personal performance in Brattleboro after a year of circus training with NECCA. None of us remained dry-eyed.
I woke up a few days ago with Bre’s son crawling across my bed in the guest room. He has a great smile and sweet curls and a friendly nature, and he seems to be a fan of nori rolls (at least of smooshing them up and getting them all over people and things). Bre is the first of my close friends to have kids: I’ve never known a baby that I’m sure I’ll know forever. This is really something.
Tim inspired a really successful birthday gift. He and I are going backpacking before I head back to Alaska. Look out, wilderness, we’re back!
Now I’m in Ohio, and Jesse and Chelsea have filled their home with wonderful people, as usual. It’s busy and cheerful and warm and tasty and creative. I have my hammock in the woods for quiet space among the fireflies, and otherwise it’s all games and cooking and farm stuff and talk with important, beloved people.
Still, I miss the simplicity of life in the village.
No, we’re not actually driving to Alaska. That’d be ridiculous. We are on a nice long sleigh ride, though: Good ol’ Carro has once again carried us to Ohio to visit our friends at the farm. He hiccupped a bit in Memphis, squealing at 1700 rpms, but we shrugged our shoulders, made a gamble, and ignored it. It paid off. We made it to Louisville in good time, and spent the night with Bethan. She woke up with Bruno Mars hair and made us pancakes.
I spent a stupid hour on the floor of a Louisville post office this morning, sealing up flat rate boxes full of pepperonis and coconut milk with crappy dollar store tape. The woman behind the counter was a little hard of hearing and we miscommunicated with abandon. It would have been frustrating and miserable, but Sean made me laugh and we sang along to the radio together, ignoring the stares of the less absurd P.O. patrons as we belted box after box with loud strips of tape. I am going miss the snot outta him.
Every muscle in my body is sore from this week of hard work, but especially sore are the ones I use for smiling. When everyone had left the Farmer’s Table last night, we abandoned the dishes, scattered on the table like exhausted revelers in the glow of the garlic chandelier, and slowly strolled down the driveway. This place is more irresistible every time we visit.
The Farmer’s Table is Chelsea’s venture, a monthly dining experience hosted by the farm. There’s a farm tour, a hands-on-experience, and, at last, a three course meal served family style on the patio that showcases the farm’s meat and local, seasonal vegetables. Sean was a guest chef for this event, which constituted his public debut. We all worked for the better part of two days to prepare: Sean and Chelsea created a menu and began cooking well in advance while Jesse and I did the enabling work of dishes and venue preparation.
On the big day, it rained buckets. While we worked on the tent, there was lightning. the weather man issued a tornado watch, Chelsea made brioche, Sean made a pork-belly slider for a mockup, we all drooled, I decorated the tent, and Jesse built a gutter and awning system not thirty minutes before the kickoff to ensure that no one would get soaked in the rain on his or her walk to the bathroom. We were nervous. Tornado watches are not good news for outdoor dinners.
When the guests arrived, Jesse greeted them and gave them a short tour of the farm, his eyes on the sky. I met them with a basket full of umbrellas, just in case. Each couple or family got a pair of scissors and a basket to cut flowers, and we all met on the front porch to arrange them in mason jars for the table. One family had two small children, and the little girl was tremendously excited that her flowers would decorate the dinner table. That done, Jesse swept the guests off to watch the evening milking, and we had a few minutes to do some last minute prep. I placed the flower arrangements on the table, and it looked beautiful.
When milking was over, the guests made their way to the table and Chelsea and Sean’s big moment was upon them: the first course.
There’s nothing like eating chicken wings with strangers to break the ice. After the first breathless rush, everything went smoothly. Jesse and I dined with the guests and chatted about the food or farming while Sean and Chelsea continued at a manic pace in the kitchen, turning out course after beautiful course.
The main course was slow-roasted lamb ribs with a tangy coriander pomegranate glaze; roasted fennel glazed with local maple syrup; cucumber and tomato salad with feta, all sourced locally; and roasted potato salad with herb dressing. I was too busy consuming my share of the feast to take many pictures, I’m afraid.
After a short break wherein the guests surreptitiously let their belts out a notch (not really, as far as I know, but you get the picture) came dessert. Dessert was mouthwatering to look at and symphonic to taste. It couldn’t have been a more perfect take on the classic ice cream sandwich.
“Did you make the ice cream here?” on woman asked.
“Of course. We used eggs and cream grown right here on the farm.”
Her jaw nearly hit the floor.
Everyone stayed to talk after the meal, to ask how the pork belly was prepared or to comment that they’d never imagined that fennel could taste so good. When the last guests had left after promising to reserve for the next three dinners and to give The Farmer’s Table a sparkling review on tripadvisor, the four of us shared a happy, laughing, bouncing hug, and then a glass of wine, which takes us back to the beginning of this post. If you are in Ohio, you will not regret a pilgrimage to Fox Hollow Farm to eat at Chelsea’s Farmer’s Table. Check out her website or facebook page to make reservations.