It may not look like much to you, but there's gold in them-thar spills. The broken vines and browning leaves concealed a wealth of dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes out at Everett Family Farm, where I was invited to "glean" today. With the first major rainstorm predicted to begin tonight, Leon Vehaba called me to let me know that he had a crew of pickers out there, trying to save every last tomato they could. But no one could possibly pick them all, so I got an invitation to scrounge through the plants and see what I could come up with.
That's just part of it—I also got a flat of small yellow heirlooms, some butternut squashes, and a couple of pretty little pumpkins for Logan. My friend, Lindsay, brought her toddler, Julian, and remarked, "Look at all this food around us." We were surrounded not only by the waning tomatoes, but by rows of carrots, beets, broccoli, chard, kale, greens, and hundreds of apple trees of many varieties. Alongside us, three young men whom Leon had hired to pick were concluding their day's work by scooping up the errant squashes and apples. "Gleaning," they called it, and of course, it was.
"We all used to eat like this," she continued. "And now, full circle." Under the cloudy grey sky, it was easier for me to remember true autumn weather back east, and to feel connected to the seasonality of our food. I regarded the butternut, thinking of Mollie Katzen's recipe for curried butternut squash soup with shiitake mushrooms.
There is a huge rainstorm bearing down on us, and I'm feeling a little like Ma Wilder on the Big Prairie—Bob's headed out for a couple of days, and I'm left with a paltry store of firewood, and a dubious amount of propane in our kitchen stove. I don't like the thought of being alone without power, but I have the comfort of having Lindsay and the baby and his father next door. (And their woodstove.)
And hopefully, tomorrow, I'll have the comforting scent of tomatoes roasting in the oven, so I can "taste a little of the summer," as Greg Brown says in Canned Goods, when the winter is beating its path through our part of the world.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Let those December winds bellow 'n' blow/I'm as warm as a July tomato." —Greg Brown, Canned Goods
Thanks for visiting.