I always title my newsletter doc by the Wednesday date of the current week. This particular Wednesday, June 6th, is my Birthday. To “celebrate” I hope to make a quick escape up to Sierra Hot Springs for some quiet alone time. I don’t get much time by myself, and I feel that a little solitude to be with my thoughts and my heart will be a very good way to spend this particular birthday. Last year was the last time Nigel and I shared my birthday together, sadly with him in a bed fairly unaware and unable to comprehend the tea party my sweet friends and family had for me. As I navigate through this first year without him, there are many of these days and moments that I have had to be strong and get through. It is quite fitting for me to make my way up to Sierra to soak, and have a chance, now that I have a little more strength, to sit with my grief and my memories quietly alone.
Although I am far from alone in this world, I am very much missing the man who is my life partner. Life on the farm is constantly busy and always filled with wonderful people. There is no shortage of socializing here even though most of my friends live in or around SF. The farm is place the draws people to it, and that is so healing and such a beautiful thing to participate in. I can not continue with this stream of thought without acknowledging the constant companionship, love and support I have flowing my way from Cameron and Lilly who have joined me here on the farm. They are my daily companions, we make and share meals together, have our evening rituals of watching shows like GOT, the little things to replace some of the many I have now lost.
This past year has been a very busy one, filled with many opposites, tremendous sorrow and grief, great travels, lots of lovely times with my “framily” (friends who are family), loads and loads of good busy work, and a lot of learning. I do not have the freedom to simply check out and face all this grief head on, I have this farm to run, so toe dipping is about as much as I can handle. Nigel’s memorial has been one of the hardest things for me and the almost year’s worth of time hasn’t made it any easier to plan, which I had hoped. It is coming together finally as I get a clearer picture of how it will go and flow.
The Pizza Oven in many ways gave me a focal or jumping off point. The project began this weekend and it was perfect. The weather was warm, but we were blessed with a nice breeze. Miguel came out Friday morning to get the base built. By Saturday morning, we were ready for the volunteer helpers. It was amazing how quickly the oven took shape. We did a little blessing for Nigel who for years dreamed of a pizza oven. It is healing to make one of his dreams come true. But the real healing comes from all of you, those of you who so generously gave to support this project and of course those of you who came out this weekend to help with the build.
I don’t know much about farming, but I do know a lot about community and bringing people together. I understand the importance of these simple joyful experiences that connect us. This weekend it was playing in the mud building this tribute to Nigel. Seeing Joe out there seemed so fitting for a pizza oven. Joe and Jenny are the infamous sauce folks who use a drill on their Squeezo, and make over 80 quarts of sauce in a day!
Ted, aka Manhattan Man, who made me my first Manhattan ever! at a Sauce Party years ago, was there and full of energy. A few years back I had one of the best conversations with his daughter Izzy about people coming together around a table and connecting. They are one of the many family’s I always look forward to seeing every summer. Kirsty, one of our Vacaville hosts was the first to show up. Kirsty has always been a person I can call and know she will have a recommendation (she recommended we buy an InstantPot) or ask for special things like beef bone broth or really whatever I might need. She has taught me so much about nutritionally dense food, and why the way we eat makes such an important difference. Kirsty is a true wealth of knowledge and a tireless promoter of Eatwell Farm.
In the afternoon Louise, our Albany host, and Kim brought up a group of girls who planned on helping out and camping out on the farm. How great is it that these moms spent their weekend with this group of girls to get hot, and dirty working on the farm! Louise’s husband Paolo and their youngest daughter Julianna joined us for the afternoon. Miguel taught us a couple of African songs which we also sang while slapping Cobb all over the oven. The girls worked hard. They got up the next morning, and after a good breakfast we went out to finish up the weekend’s work. Thinking about it, we had a group of teenagers volunteering in the heat and never heard a complaint. Just goes to show you, we can’t fall for the commonly held opinions of young people! I am so very grateful that Andrew and Eric were here on Sunday to give us the extra bit of “man power”. Their height and muscles were greatly needed and appreciated. And I think it was a little healing for them too, to work on a project that was one of their dad’s long time dreams.
At one point Miguel pointed out that the base looked like elephant’s toes. I have a life long love relationship with elephants, and so the shape of it all was determined by that one little observation. As much as I am building this for Nigel, it seems even more fitting to have a part of me right there with him. Before Miguel left we started up the first fire. Eric and Andrew tended the fire and kept it going for a few hours, which is all part of the drying/curing process. Before we can complete this project, the Cobb has to be fully dried. Those young men have built many fires here for our overnight events so they have a “little” experience. A bittersweet moment watching them, seeing the men they are becoming and knowing how proud their dad would be right now.
So to wrap up this long winded, unusual newsletter, I want to remind you all, everyone is invited to the memorial June 17th. It looks like it will be a great year for garlic braiding as the weather has been kind to us this Spring. Lilly is learning/practicing how to make Lavender Wands which she would like to share with everyone. You do not have to stay for the memorial Sunday afternoon, you can camp out Saturday, enjoy a good breakfast here and head home if you like, or you can stay for the memorial. Just come on out, it is one of the best times to come to the farm.
Sorry for this non-farming newsletter, and thank you all for allowing me this space to share.