May this year—so very, very different from all other years. This month has been similar to talking about the 100-year-flood plain. You know it’s possible that a flood can happen, but until you experience it, you don’t realize all the ramifications of such an event. So here we are in the 100-year-pandemic plain. The weather has been bizarre, we all are in disguise, and we are just now finding routines in the new way of living. Isn’t it great that the plants still know how to grow?
With a lot of our customers working from home, gardening is the new activity! As one person said to me, “This is the only thing we can do.” Hmmm, no movies, no restaurants, no gym time, no concerts, no museums… that leaves gardening, meditation, journaling, taking online classes, reading. Gardening seems to be the favorite!
Tomato and pepper plants are popular of course, but it is great to see people putting in herbs for the first time, experimenting with native perennials, building their own combination planters, and having fun looking at all the plants. Digging in the dirt is therapeutic and being outside is good for your soul.
It has been a pleasure to help people learn about new plants. From begonias and dahlias to verbena and lavender, asclepias and yarrow to hydrangeas and peonies, people are looking at them all. So many colors, shapes, sizes, and varieties. It is definitely more soothing to plan a garden than to try to figure out the phases and regulations of businesses re-opening.
We have had the strangest weather for May. After a cool-ish April, May became even colder, with late near-frosts and frosts that set the asparagus and strawberries back by a week, and cold winds that chilled any plants on display. Then May 15 we jumped to 84 degrees. Winter coats at the beginning of the week, moving hundreds of plants inside each night, to tee shirts at the end of the week. I am so happy to have sunshine and warmth!
A few strawberries graced us with their presence by mid-May; it has not changed that the first berries taste fabulous! Now we are awaiting a flush of berries, so that we can luxuriate in strawberry abundance! This may not happen till the very end of the month, as we head into yet another cool week. Obviously, I am not in charge of the weather, because it would be very different from what we have this year.
We joke with customers that we are all masked bandits now. We have to recognize people by their voices, foreheads, and glasses. Voices are muffled by masks, and we have to repeat ourselves often. But we all are experiencing this sense of familiar but not quite sure. Perhaps we have to pay more attention when people speak– a good habit to learn.
The baking frenzy has continued. We have sold more yeast in the past two months than in the past two years. People are eating more fruits and vegetables—excellent for good health in general! There was a run on eggplant for a while—must have been a lot of eggplant parmesan being made! There is more recipe exchanging, and interest in cooking. We ponder the unknowable—will eating habits be permanently changed? Will people continue to experiment with recipes? I hope people are enjoying their home cooked meals.
We hope for good results for the businesses and nonprofits that are just now re-opening. We know how hard it is to work out the practical applications of the new regulations and we wish these businesses well in how they adapt to these new circumstances. These are our neighbors and part of our community; their success is important for the health of the community as a whole.
We are glad to hear that medical procedures will be resumed—cancer treatments, torn meniscus, dental work, etc.—so that the rest of the medical profession can get back to work. We think of all the medical staff who treat those who are sick, and hope they stay well. We think of all the cashiers, and essential business workers who are exposed to hundreds of people daily, and we hope that the customers are wearing their masks, washing their hands, and sanitizing what they touch. We think of all the teachers who had to jump into online teaching for the first time and we are grateful for their perseverance.
So–this May is different. We have different business procedures, a different society, and we all look different! Fortunately, the plants keep growing, the trees blossom and are bearing fruit, and the vegetables are ready for harvest. It is reassuring to me that something is happening in the usual way. I am grateful for the patience of our customers, as we have worked to implement new procedures (maximum capacity in the farm market, for instance). I am grateful that we have sanitizer to wipe down carts, baskets, doors, handles, etc. I am grateful that all of our employees here on the farm are healthy; we are working constantly to stay that way. And every day, I am grateful that plants keep growing and that there are crops to harvest.
Eat fresh, eat local! Stay safe, stay well!