There’s something uniquely special in the act of collective preparation for a shared feat — whether it be a sports game, stage performance or otherwise – and the requirement of high-level focus welcomes an elevation of consciousness to all involved. Such was the energy around Field Notes on Friday evening, as our large and dispersed crew worked in coordination to put the final touches on market preparations for Saturday Morning.
I arrived around 4:30, by which time a majority of the actual harvest had been completed. I was welcomed by a number of Sand Risers in the pack shed and cooler area: weighing, packing and organizing an array of produce harvested from both sites earlier in the rainy day. Down the hill I went, to the washing sinks where Fanni and Polly washed and bundled green onions, and Oren basketed down. “Wanna come pick some peas with me?” he asked, and I willfully obliged: happy to disappear into the world of towering hoop house peas and clear plastic isolation from all the world outside. Finding a belt and wicker basket to hang at my waist, I basketed down and made my way to the pea house for my daily Grandmaster Education session.
After garnering an understanding of appropriate harvest sizes and practices, based on considerations of taste, weight, and continued health of the plants, I hopped into the row opposite Oren and we began picking: close enough to touch, and all but invisible to each other. The conversation floated through the house as Monica and Polly joined in turn, and we flowed through the green micro-world we now occupied. A light rain pattered on and off on the plastic roof above us, and we discussed friendship, relationships, and Monica’s intimidating nature.
Gradually, my thumb tired and greened with pea residue as I found myself encompassing a state of oneness with the pea — making decisions based on feel and instinct, rather than conscious intellect. Members came and went as the deafening rain intensified, and as I neared the end of the final row, I became conscious of my occupation of a world all my own — incapable of hearing or seeing anything beyond what was touchable. The peas and the rain demanded presence, leaving no choice but to accept and appreciate the intensity of the greens blasting through the darkening house; the large walkway weeds brushing my ankles, and the subtle tingle of passing moisture from the downpour outside. After minutes of solitude, my spell was broken by a startling voice directly behind me.
It was Corrina, who had been within mere feet of me through the whole of the exploration. Snapping back to consciousness, we finished up our rows, and carted the bountiful baskets of snappy, lively deliciousness up to the pack shed, where the work had continued ceaselessly in spite of my otherworldly isolation. By now, they were putting the finishing touches on weighing and bagging kale, and the cooler stood heavy with the evidence of the day’s work: stuffed and loaded boxes and bins, waiting to be picked up in the groggy, sunrise hours of a summer Saturday. From there, they would be driven to the various markets, to sit proudly on display as a testament of our dedication to the craft. An overbearing crowd gathered around the weighing table for the final task remaining, and I assessed the darkening world outside before sprinting down the hill through the downpour, back to the hoop house and my world of green, electric life and isolation.
There, I weeded the carrots planted on the outside rows of the pea house, embracing the company of my silent green friends once more before returning to the top of the hill to say goodbye to those who still remained, taking care of the last small bits of preparation for the day to follow. Late as it was, each remained physically and emotionally ready to meet in the wee hours of the following morning, load up, and take off in teams of two to Neenah, Appleton and Stevens Point, for their first opportunity to present our food to the broader world of central Wisconsin. The preparation was thorough; the anticipation enlivening, and I’m excited to hear the stories from our first market week, and prepare do it all again next Friday.