This has been a good spring in many ways. We have been spared the ferocious heat of last spring and we’ve had some sun and some rain. I am likely to be fooled into planting too early and getting caught by a late frost so I made a decision and bought several packages of Wall O’Waters. These are enclosures that you fill with water and set in the spot where tender plants will go. The sun heats the water and creates a small, free-standing greenhouse. It stays in place all summer and is removed and stored, then reused the following year. With a good patch kit I expect to get many years of good use out of them. That said, I kind of wish I had just stored milk jugs. The benefit of the WOW is that it can stay on the plant for the whole season and will protect much larger plants than the lowly milk jug. The downside is the cost; $3.00 a piece versus free from friends and neighbors. We get our milk in Mason jars so no jugs here. Climate instability is going to challenge us all in figuring out how to cope with too much and too little, either in terms of heat or rain or wind. Maybe I’m taking it too personally. Farmers have always had to contend with fickle weather but it does feel good to have something concrete to blame.
I was reading a piece about the fall in the price of housing. There was much discussion about the billions in lost equity for home owners. I have a problem with this line of thinking as it is only concerned with paper profits. I could sell my house today and triple the price I paid for it. That’s a paper profit. But my house also gives me the space for growing food, a sewing room and a workshop for Bruce. It shelters my children and is keeping them taking on debt to fund a place to live. The kitchen is not just beautiful but functional. I can cook and preserve and store bulk food for a rainy day. My home is a lot more than a paper investment. Yesterday, I had one friend stop by to pick up strawberries and arrange to have Bruce drive her to the train station so she could go home for her dad’s funeral. Another friend stopped by with a bucket of parsnips. She left with some fiddlehead plants. She lives off-grid and I had copied a recipe for Mozzarella cheese that doesn’t use a microwave. Maggie stacked the wood that the Philbrick men had helped us split. Bruce and I worked in the garden and napped on the deck. It was my turn to cook. I made up mashed potatoes from the root cellar and carmelized the parsnips according Sal’s recipe. Maggie played the guitar and sang for us. Ben ran up to a neighbor’s farm to help repair some fence lines. Phoebe ran over to play with the little girls next door. Bruce walked over to Tom’s to pay for some grain he had picked up. There was nothing special about the day but everything wonderful. Our cultural problems can find their roots in putting a monetary value on everything and turning our lives into consumer defined spreadsheets of profit and loss. I hope the great change coming will change that first.
Potatoes are going in today. I am so anxious for new potatoes. One of life’s profound pleasures is the first potato of the summer. It’s right up there with the first asparagus and the first tomato sandwich.