The Point of it All


We were at it again on Monday night: 8 Sand-Risers, parched and blackened by sun and dirt; redding and blueing and greening the IDEA Center walls around us with record rapidity. Behind us was a remnant of other work done by a past group, which Danny W brought to my attention. “Hey, there’s the title of your next blog post,” he remarked jovially, gesturing to the words written on the wall behind us. The point of it all    Wow, I thought, that’s a bit of a tall order. The truth of the matter is that, given the flurrying pace of activity around RSO these days, I haven’t taken much time to contemplate the point of any of it. I got a similar feel from my contemporaries around the table, some of whom had just endured their third straight day of 90+ temperatures and near full sun. We’re getting into summer, and summer always finds a way to fly, in spite of our best efforts to hold her back.


We’d actually reflected on this fleeting nature of the summer a couple of days earlier, as we’d hoed a bean plot in the hot sun. “You just gotta take a moment from time to time to look around and appreciate where we’re at,” said Danny, sagaciously. I looked around, took in the significance of what he’d just said, and then got that hoe back down into the dirt. Thankfully, since that conversation, we’ve been blessed with a number of opportunities to slow ourselves for a few moments and enjoy the time we’ve got. One of these followed a long evening at RSO, as the moon’s shimmer intensified, and the salmon sky in the west slowly darkened. I casually brought up a new barbecue place that we’d not yet tried, and the idea took hold with Oren. “Man, I’ve been eating vegetarian for like a week straight; I just want a huge pile of meat in front of me!” His enthusiasm sufficed, and two hours later, we found ourselves under the glowing yellow light of Polly’s porch — mediocre drive-through barbecue in bags at our feet; mosquito-bitten swells at our ankles, and tired laughter in our eyes. This is what it’s all about, I realized, from the center of a true moment of camaraderie.

A couple of days later we were finishing up again, under a similar RSO moon: Polly and I carted around buckets of ash to sprinkle over radishes to deter root maggots, and Oren worked the seeder, finishing the final open beds of the brand new Field One — a noteworthy accomplishment all its own. I was getting a touch jaded in spite of the beauty around me: my general stinkiness and exhaustion mashed with the ambitious lineup of mosquitos on my arms and ankles; my ashy, smelly hands judiciously powdering our tiny collection of ash over thousands of tiny radishes. Oren passed me enthusiastically behind the small seeder. “Wow, it’s an awesome summer night, right!” His spirit was infectious, and I paused for a brief moment, took a deep, grateful breath, and appreciated what a special moment we occupied.


These reflective opportunities have been peppered throughout the last week of work: fast-moving philosophical conversations with Oren and Polly in our kitchen over Sunday morning crepes; the invention of the word carcardigan;the transformation of a stretch of grass into a perennial patch, flush with rhubarb, chives, marigolds, apple trees, elderberries, and yarrow. The sun was hot as we transformed the patch, but we laughed, joked and chugged lemonade, and that’s what it was all about. The final moment of this nature came late on Monday night, when Fanni and I were pulled over on our way home from the planning meeting. 10 pm on Memorial night in downtown Stevens Point. Given no choice but to sit still, we sat, engulfed in the motion of the red and blue shimmer around us, and blinding spotlight glaring through the mirrors. Hmm, I thought to myself, it’s going to be hard to explain that tote of ash on the back seat if we should happen to get searched. Root maggots may not be the first logical conclusion drawn by an officer of the law. Since becoming a farmer, I realized, I’m always transporting some weird shit in my car: full or empty compost buckets, rendering a less-than-impressive stench to the interior; muscled and beasty tomato plants lounging patiently in the back seat; horseradish roots in the bucket in the trunk; totes of ash collected from the cabin fireplace. It’s weird, the way that things change around you as you take in the day-to-day, becoming something you never thought you’d be. Maybe that’s the point of it all, or maybe it’s the culmination of laughter, conversation and randomness that make up the moments between what we deem to be productivity. I’m not sure, but I’ll ask Danny W, and see what he says.