"It Tastes Like a Skunk Smells"
by Jo Pavlov
I arrived early to pick up my basket this week. So early, in fact, Linda and Maris were out in the field just starting to pick for it. I may not have been born with a ton of gifts, but patience was one, so I meandered around back and peeked in the hoop houses (holy toldedo, it's hot in there), pet Joey the pig and cuddled Cookie the kitty whilst I waited. If you haven't been to Tree and Twig farm, you are missing out. It's so serene. It's so cool, especially for this Wellandportlandian, cursed with the same clay soil as Linda, to see up close and personal, what is POSSIBLE with that dirt with a bit of elbow grease and passion.
I love farm life. I mean, hell, I'm no farmer, but I live in the country and the slow pace of life is deep in my soul now. I couldn't be pressed for time if I tried. And I mean, really: If the twenty minutes you spend communing with the chickens and bunnies while your PERSONAL FARMER picks you GARDEN FRESH veggies isn't time well spent, then I don't know what is.
At one point, Cookie the wonder kitty saw me sitting down and made a beeline for my lap. The ducks were quacking (quite incessantly, but it was charming) and Joey was snorting. Maris wandered by and was busy with his hands pulling some leaves off something or other while we chatted.
Have you read Maris' posts? He's interning to learn how to run his own farm. He told me about the family farm he grew up on, the one they are slowly reclaiming acre by acre to attempt to do family farming the old fashioned way, instead of leasing the land to some factory. He's calm personified and I had forgotten there are people out there who aspire to this kind of life. It's such and honourable life, yet such a hard life. Hey, I had a 12x20' garden the first year I lived here, and the weeds scared me off. Completely. I hope to try again someday, but maybe something more manageable. Maris and Linda think in acres, I think in square feet. Maris and Linda think in terms of baskets and customers... I think in terms of salad bowls.
A yellow finch swooped by and Maris identified it for me. He said there had been a Baltimore Oriole around a few days previous, and I asked him how he knew. He said they are such a flaming shade of orange, you cannot mistake them for anything else.
I wasn't really paying attention to what he was doing, but when he was done, he put the leaves he'd been pulling into a bag, and handed them to me. "Arugula" he said. Linda walked over with a full basket for me, and I said quite innocently, "What's arugula?"
I know I know. When I call myself green, I'm not kidding. It's sad. But part of the reason I blog here is to let any floating souls out there know ... it's OKAY to know nothing. You can learn. Hell, I'll be 40 in three short weeks, and I'm just learning. Ate my first chard three short weeks ago, and I'm not ashamed to say so.
Linda said quite matter-of-factly, "Arugula is a salad green. It's kind of a weed. It kind of tastes like skunk smells." Way to sell it!
I don't know what possessed me to bite into it then and there, but I did. Partly because I couldn't smell it, but as soon as I bit into it, I grinned from ear to ear. YES! That is exactly how it tastes! But not in a bad way. It's like how the smell of manure becomes somewhat tolerable and even comforting when you live in the country. Arugula is a fascinating flavour that is not at all offensive, even though it can only best be described as "tasting like a skunk smells". And it's oddly familiar. If you've ever eaten a fancy weedy looking salad at an expensive restaurant, well you know arugula.
Linda showed me a few other items in the basket and when she got to the green beans, I couldn't help myself. I just stuck my hand in and grabbed one and started chowing down. Green beans fresh off the vine might well be my idea of a clean slice of heaven. Throw in a lap cat, good conversation with like minded people and a new duckling named Pavlov, and you've pretty much made my day.