THE WINNER-TAKE-ALL SOCIETY affords no time to dillydally, so we’ll open this week’s crop alert with an executive summary: “Roy G. Biv.” That means the farm is a veritable rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and all fields are ready to be picked. Now, dear overachiever, you are in position to formulate your world-beating game plan. Godspeed.
For the rest of us — slackers, dreamers, wanderers, chumps and ersatz bohemians — it is the perfect moment to adopt the triumphal posture of the also-ran. Are your slippered feet upon your desk? Do you “lean and loaf at your ease” like Whitman? Bravo. Now scroll through the photographs below, allowing each piece of produce to signify a long-cherished personal ambition that you will kiss goodbye as it floats off to infinity and frees you of its psychic weight.
Our rainbow gathering starts with red. Think of all the red things in your life. Can you name 5 or 10 or 20? In Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors film trilogy, red stands for fraternity, in the French revolutionary sense rather than the Animal House sense. The movie Red had many of us wanting to be French, if only for a couple days after that first screening back in the 1990s.
As we stroll toward orange, we encounter a little commingling. It is to be expected. Reds and oranges and russets all jumble together. It is the spirit of the times, the Zeitgeist; it inheres in the tomatoes’ Weltanschauung, their organismal Umwelt. Some have suggested that a shared Weltschmertz draws the tomatoes closer.
Orange is our teacher, for every orange thing ever made is blemished. The sun has its sunspots, spray tans have their Snookis — so perfectly imperfect. And what a specimen, this tomato! Do you see scars and cracks? The teacher sees wabi-sabi, a humble acceptance of transience and imperfection. “There is a crack in everything… that’s how the light gets in,” counsels Leonard Cohen.
Did you ever eat an unripe apricot that tasted like a shoe? The two have been associated for eons. In 2008, an Armenian cave coughed up a trove of Copper Age artifacts — including a leather shoe and intentionally preserved apricots dating from 5,500 years ago. The shoe is believed to be older than the one found on Otzi the Iceman, making it the oldest known piece of leather footwear. Archaeologists are mum on which tasted better, the boot or the fruit.
The plum tree made its mid-century underground debut in Charles Bukowski’s Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame: “…in grievous deity my cat / walks around / he walks around and around / with electric tail and push-button eyes / he is alive and plush and / final as a plum tree…”
And here we are at green. Mr. Biv’s mysterious middle initial “G.” The whole rainbow pivots on this point. If you are viewing on an iPad or iPhone, try balancing it on the tip of that pepper, then spin. That’s our premium virtual reality show.
Say, “Splish, splash.” Now say, “Squish, squash.” See? One of the many vegetables that will flummox your life coach when she learns English as a second language.
Greek texts dating from the 4th century C.E. mention chard, which was held in high esteem by Greeks and Romans for its reputed medicinal properties. Cultivation of chard reached a high point on January 22, 1506, when Pope Julius II commissioned the Swiss Chards as his personal bodyguards and defenders of the Vatican.
Ahh, blue, the beginning of “Biv.” We will have to bivouac here a little while until the scientists get their story straight about indigo. It was supposed to be our next stop but apparently they aren’t calling it a color any more; indigo is getting subsumed into violet. As if we care about their silly little nanometers and whatever. Long Live Biv! Free baptisms in the River Bivver!
A little sibling rivalry can be healthy and that’s why peppers and eggplants are vying to be named the purplest members of the Solanaceae, or Nightshade, family. It’s not a fair fight, however, because the same “scientists” who stole indigo and created the dinosaur hoax have their pipettes in the petri dish and are tweaking things left and right in ways that we normal people can’t imagine.
We’re rooting for these guys, dreamy aubergines. The eggplant is a berry that is consumed like a vegetable. Perhaps that confusion is what led 15th-century Europeans to believe that eating eggplant could cause insanity. A nutty notion — but maybe not so irrational, after all. The eggplants of our very own region inspired a weeklong music festival marked by stampeding crowds and stage dives.
That completes Roy G. Biv, but we’ve blown past violet into the ultraviolet realm. Technically these berries are invisible, because people can’t see such high frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. It’s where most of the burning happens. You know, UV-A and UV-B.
People can’t see up there, but farm cats can. They can also shoot rainbow-colored laser beams out of their eyes. Natasha does it all the time. And good thing, too. Nothing like a laser snap in the ass to get a bone-tired old farmer moving. She stings you and then she’s all like, “Meow,” just hoping to pull you in close enough for a couple European air kisses.
A sparkling, rambling farm blessing to you all.