When I belonged to the Stowe Farmers Market years ago, as a maple vendor, I knew many farmers. For innumerable reasons, I admire the tenacity and dedication of small scale Vermont farmers, but at the end of this November day, I admire my neighbors for their practical generosity.
For an ill friend, a single father, I stopped by one farm and the back of my Toyota was loaded with carrots, onions, beets, potatoes, squash. I was told that the door’s open; come back. I dropped these boxes at his house, where two young women mopped the kitchen floor. The freezer, empty yesterday, was filled with beef from a nearby farm.
I would never want to sentimentalize my hardscrabble state, but in the face of dire unhappiness, time and again I’ve seen farmers give unstintingly – perhaps in the knowledge that larders fill and dwindle, and fill and dwindle again, as the time of need comes knocking on everyone’s door.
John Cheever famously said, Writing is not at all a competitive sport. How often I think of that line – in school board meetings, for instance, when I think, Educating children is not a competitive sport. Nor is life. In this season of diminishing light, anyone whose hands work the earth knows we’ll each meet our own comeuppance one day, and if golden beets and garlic sweeten our days until then, how lucky we are.