Barbara shared her reflections on the CSA season…
It is a journey to relish. As I walk through the autumn-tinted park, a painting for Farmer David under one arm, my empty Duane Reade bags swinging from the opposite hand, I look at everything as if this were the first time.
Every Tuesday, all summer long, I have made this trip to the pickup point. Usually Iâ€™ve been in a hurry, eager to get it over with and go back to my life. Itâ€™s been an interruption, an afternoon on which I havenâ€™t had time to get to my gardens. The uncertainty of the delivery time (usually because of traffic) has made it impossible to plan anything else for pickup days.
Part of this was my fault: Iâ€™d volunteered to be there early every week, not just because I was required to put in a few hours of service as a CSA member, but because I liked to be there to help unload the truck, to make sure the room was set up ahead of time, to use my calligraphic skills to make a big poster so everybody could easily see how much of what we were allowed to take.
I arrived, every time, like a child waiting for Santa Claus: What would David bring this week?
Not knowing has been a big part of the fun. Itâ€™s like the way I garden: Iâ€™m not the sort of gardener who clears a tract of land in order to impose my will on it, but the sort who begins with whatâ€™s already there and works with it. My gardens are a blend of pre-existing growth and donations from other peopleâ€™s overflowing gardens, plants grown from seed â€“ and orphans rescued from the garbage.
Waiting for the delivery felt the same way: the weekâ€™s menu was coming at me and I wasnâ€™t able to plan a thing until I saw what I had. And sometimes what I had was something Iâ€™d never heard of before. Kohlrabi? Garlic scapes? The summer became a culinary adventure, an exercise in creativity. I loved it. Many a time as my husband and I sat down to dinner I said, â€œI bet nobody in the whole world is eating what weâ€™re having tonight.â€ Because Iâ€™d just made the recipe up.
Today was the last time. As always, the truck was overflowing with beautiful food: bins of polished squashes and turnips, vivid tomatoes, rosettes of tatsoi, all crisp and fresh and washed. David and Julia have taken very good care of us.
With a sense of ritual I arranged the furniture, helped bring the empty plastic containers out, carried the trays of vegetables in, made the sign. I gave David the painting, a celebration of sculptural squashes and turnips and gourds. The produce he had brought today was every bit as beautiful.
The few of us who were there talked a little about how well the year had gone and how weâ€™re going to miss the largesse. I realized that I was going to miss David too; Iâ€™ve really gotten to like him.
I started back home with my laden bags, my mind busy planning tonightâ€™s menu and another painting. I suspect that Iâ€™ve gotten more mileage out of joining this CSA than anybody else has: the wonderful food, the walks through the park, the fun Iâ€™ve had inventing recipes â€“ and the permission Iâ€™ve given myself to be an artist again after a long time of doing other things.
Most of the trees were still green; the leaves are just beginning to change. I walked with my jacket open. From May through October Iâ€™ve made this trip and, although I know that winter is coming, whenever I think of my season with the CSA it will always be summer.