The chaos of the past week has been constant and beautiful, in light of the numerous international adults and two children who now all occupy our small space. 5 languages fly around our house at all times as we navigate the collision of our cultures and values, and the use of the bathroom. It has been equal parts wonderful and overwhelming; a never-ending tumbler of activity, and whirlwind of communication.
The farm has become my sanctuary; Polly’s car my getaway vehicle. She picks me up early in the morning, and I tell her of our debacles as we head out for Saturday market.
“Yeah, so I think that Fanni’s family may think we’re really poor or something, because they keep buying us stuff. Like, they bought us plates and glasses because they think it’s weird that we drink out of jars. It’s cool and everything, but…”
“Really! Yeah, that’s strange…”
We cruise, and take care of business that is thankfully straightforward, with communication that is thankfully straightforward. 7 am Saturday, in downtown Appleton, she walks me through market stand setup. “Yeah, so greens go on this side; roots over here, and once we have the kale it goes here, under this basket.”
“Because it does. Oren told me to tell you that there’s no need to innovate at this market.”
Good enough for me.
I return home, where Gasper has our Weber grill filled with wood and paper over a bed of charcoals; vents closed and smoking to beat hell. “I think I will open it a bit, and it gets hot, hopefully. Though this is all the coal we have. I’m not sure it is enough.”
Inside, Ella is crying uncontrollably, surrounded by Hungarian women. Fanni’s brother Tomi and I take her for a walk to the Coop, to calm her down and get more charcoal. We try to communicate.
“The day,” I gesture all around, “is beautiful.”
“Ah, yes yes. Beautiful day.”
“Uhh, szep… uh, nap?”
“Yea, yea, az ez szep nap.”
“Az ez szep nap.”
We get by; managing a couple laughs and enjoying the peace of the walk. The Coop is closed, but it’s okay, because we’ve walked and Ella has settled down. We return her home, and drive to the grocery store. By the time we get back, Gasper has a bed of hot coals, the wood and paper have thankfully burned up, and there’s no longer a need for the extra charcoal. We kick up a hybrid game of football/basketball/soccer with the kids that expands through the whole of our backyard and the neighbors’. Our eight-year old neighbor Joni incorporates herself seamlessly into the structure of the family. Somehow, we come in with a plate of glorious meat and a fresh, market-leftover salad, and everybody eats their fill. The mess is made; the mess is cleaned; and the space is always full. At the end of the day, Fanni and I wait patiently for whomever is in the shower, so we can brush our teeth and get some sleep.
It continues like this until Monday morning at 6:30, and the arrival of Polly’s car. Caffeine in tow, I hop in and give her the new scoop, as we head out for a day of harvest and field work.
“Yeah, so yesterday afternoon they went to Wal-Mart, and brought back a shitty loaf of $1.00 bread, and some sugar-free blueberry muffins. Fanni was pretty upset about it.”
At the farm, we beasted through a small harvest, and various teams of weeding, planting, and mulching. I managed a small crew of workshares, basking in the rewards of clear, uncomplicated communication. At 6 pm, Fanni saved the day, arriving at the farm with a Wok full of egg noodles, and crock pot of Hungarian Venison Stew – made with love by our houseful of Hungarian mothers. We ate, laughed, ate more, and dug into the crepe cake they’d made.
Back at home, the men lounged around the table restlessly as the women roamed, in various degrees of housekeeping. Soaked to the bone, I started undressing and making my way to my bedroom. “You guys wanna play a game?”
Eventually, we settled on “Ticket to Ride,” and hashed out the rules. English to Hungarian; German to Slovenian. Finally, we were off on our path to railroad barondom. My partner was Vinci, Fanni’s 7-year-old, German/Hungarian/Slovenian speaking nephew. We navigated our turns with questionable effectiveness. “Think we should take two this time Vinci? Here and here?”
He considered, then nodded his affirmation assuredly. He had no idea what I’d said.
Sometimes, he called the shots. Sometimes they were questionable shots, but that’s all in the dynamic of teamwork, I suppose. I eyed the new toaster on our countertop skeptically. We navigated our way through a game strategy which could best be called… abstract.
Tomi held Ella. She cried out unexpectedly in his face. Taken aback, he bounced her awkwardly, and the priceless looks of “What the hell?” on each of their faces sent the whole family into a fit of laughter.
Neither of them quite understood what was going on, and for that matter, neither did I, and neither did Vinci. But we all had fun and it was beautiful nonetheless. We wrapped up our game and headed our separate ways, to our separate beds in our small house. Tomorrow, we’d wake up and do it all again; heading back to Dorchester to hang out with my folks.