A BAKER’S DOZEN is a dozen plus one. A farmer’s dozen is a baker’s dozen—minus 9 that got chewed by rabbits, plus 14 you stacked by the wheelbarrow, minus 7 that got brown rot, plus 12 that escaped the frost, minus… See? See where our heads are at? All over the place. There are so many moving parts on the farm, sometimes we have to ask, Is anything certain? What do we know for sure?
We know that many seek beacons in the dark night of the soul; others, like canteloupe, are quite heady and prefer to dim the stimuli.
We know that plums inspire confession. William Carlos Williams: “I have eaten / the plums / that were in / the icebox / and which / you were probably / saving / for breakfast / Forgive me / they were delicious / so sweet / and so cold.”
When you first encounter a tree-ripened tomato, you might think, “Hmm.” And then, “Yum.” If your next thought is to enhance that local tomato with a sprinkle of black pepper from the global spice trade, and it is not even fair-trade organic pepper, don’t beat yourself up too much. It takes a while to think perfect thoughts.
A five-tipped leaf atop a tomato. Doesn’t it just want to float off the screen and land on your homework and turn into a golden star? Maybe you got a few of those along the way. If not, be your own sticker, and give many out.
Fold an onion skin in half 100 times. How tall is it? Six or seven inches? How about 800 trillion times the distance from Earth to Sun? That’s right, it is deep space tall. You multiply the thickness of the skin, a snippet of an inch, by 2 to the 100th power. You can fight us all day on this one, but we learned it in Farm School.
Mathematics is a tool of great power, second only to corn, which can be made into fuel, Twinkies, and a kind of dog. Oh, sure, you can rattle the cage about transgenic high-fructose corn slag. But lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a tune and I will try to sing out of key if you are being an insufferable battle axe at the dinner table. We’ll fix the world, but first, dessert.
Love is the same forever and always. H. L. Mencken said: “To the average man, doomed to some banal drudgery all his life long, women offer the only grand hazard that he ever encounters. Take them away and his existence would be as flat and secure as that of a moocow.” For these old cucumbers, paramours since early Spring, the notion is true and the feeling is mutual.
These zucchinis were having quite the vigorous chinwag before the photo. But the Feds don’t want you to know about it. The “Brookings Report,” submitted by NASA to Congress, warned that the mere knowledge of contact with intelligent life could destroy the fabric of human civilization. So who else — or what else — is out there talking, and who is listening, and who is not privy?
“Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo…” That is the second moocow in this crop alert. It is the most famous moocow of all, from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Our friend, who shall go unnamed (Joanna!), brought a striped tomato to dinner last night. It came from her garden. We gave her the business because, first of all, the tomato was not even local: it had traveled all the way from downtown Ithaca at great cost to the environment. Secondly, what you need to understand is that home gardeners are subverting the small farm economy. We are trying to sell you tomatoes while you are getting them in the black market of your yard. Ithaca is full of smart people but sometimes we are like, Hello? Anybody home?
Do you lead by eggplantxample?
E. B. White, who brought an imaginary farm to life in Charlotte’s Web, left Cornell in 1923, perhaps a few years too early to taste the fruit from our Vintage Orchard. But when you wander around and pluck apples, you are part of almost a century of picking from these trees. Wander, wonder.
A donut peach is no plain peach. Hints of guava, coconut and pineapple inside.
Is man above peppers on the ladder? In this case, yes. But through the eons, no.
Garlic, breathe. Garlic breath. Not the same.
It is so Pocono. These rowdy Pennsylvania peaches have turned Marigold Mountain into their own personal paintball field. Takes all kinds. Fact.
Did you know we have a beehive out back? They are the hardest workers on the farm. They work as hard as the dogs don’t. Now that’s a biscuit.
IS THIS A FRESH CROP ALERT OR WHAT?
Yes, it is. Everything in this whole phantasmagoria can be found at the farm stand. And if you act now, you can pick your own PEARS and CANTELOUPES and TOMATOES and EGGPLANT and PEPPERS and more.
Party in Astoria? Eva Longoria? No, phantasmagoria. Good word for a cocktail party. Means a sequence of images like seen in a dream. Kind of like the days of our lives on the farm. And much like the “ghostly herd of dust bunnies” in The Locusts Have No King. But enough about books… School hasn’t started… Come outside and play!