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Published: April 27th 2009
Leeks and strawberries.
A Day on the Farm
It has been a slow, uneventful past week for me here in Lasalle. That is not to say that things did not get done or that action was not been taken in regards to life and living. In fact I breathed very well every day that in itself is an action that functions directly in respect to life and living. Sometimes breathing is all you really need to do, it brings you back from your thoughts and day dreaming and makes you focus on the here and now. The present moment is often forgotten when we are living it because our minds will wander here or there. So yes, I have been breathing very well.
Work on the farm has not stopped in the mean time either. I have been going every other day or so to pull weeds, clean the garden up and rearrange and tidy the green house. All the while Paul has been trying to burn the piles of discarded saplings that dapple the landscape and perch on the terraces. The chestnut trees that were grafted a week and a half ago have taken quite well. The new limbs are starting to
bud which means the tree has accepted the bond and sap runs through it. Today Atoussa and I got up early to work on the farm. But before we went off to play in the dirt we went to the market.
Monday is the market day in Lasalle. The vendors come bearing their wares on collapsible tables and trucks that open into awnings with display cases. There is a merchant with clothing, jewelry, a merchant with honey and bee pollen from the region, a merchant with organic seedlings and flowers, plenty of regional cheeses, piles of various breads, a merchant with oysters and even sea urchins, there is a display of knives and belts, even a stand with bras and underwear (although I do not see myself or anyone for that matter buying a pair of underwear here). The woman who runs the pizza shop has a huge metal wok out and is making paella and there is even sushi available!
We are early, it is only nine o’clock in the morning, and not all of the vendors are out with their merchandise. Atoussa purchases seedlings that we did not have time to plant on the farm from the organic
We now have six varieties of tomatoes.
stand. She gets several lettuces, eggplant, and a type of tomato called “coure de bouef” which means cow heart. These tomatoes are enormous and ribbed. They are so red, Atoussa says, that they are almost purple. We left the plants in the care of the vendor so that we could get the rest of our things without having to carry the cumbersome burden around with us.
The organic produce is not out so we go to the “super marche” around the corner to get potatoes (pomme de terre), zucchini (courgette), onions (l’oignon), and some roman lettuce (I don’t remember this one). As we are leaving the store Atoussa once again tells me how the village takes care of everyone. The owners of the super marche are a family and will credit your things in a log if you do not have the money with you to purchase your items. They will never ask you to take care of your account and never ask if you can pay for what you owe.
Atoussa tells me a story of a woman who had several psychological disorders who had once lived in the village. She had a hard life that was exacerbated with
alcoholism. She would wander around the village begging for money and people would always provide. She received anything she needed whether it was a few coins from a passerby or a steak from the butcher or even groceries from the market. No one asked her for payment nor expected her to pay. Atoussa always greeted the woman and noticed when she would make a change to her appearance and had attempted conversation with her a number of times. Last year Atoussa was in the store and asked the women that worked there where the wandering woman was. They replied that she had died of liver disease almost a year ago. Today is the two year anniversary of her death, Atoussa remembered. She was sad to hear of the death of the woman and mourned her for several days.
We returned to where the plants we had bought were and picked them up, thanking the vendor. Atoussa and I headed out of the square and back to her house to get ready to leave for Bel Air.
Once at Bel Air Atoussa decided to plant some of the seedlings in the greenhouse and I worked in the garden for a
New lettuces sowed on the right and ones ready to harvest on the left.
few hours. I hoed the rows that were sowed, pulling out weeds and cleaning between the plants to make sure they were well provided for. The leeks were up and ready for harvesting, the strawberries were in bloom, and the red roots of the radishes were peeking up from the soil. I looked over the garden but no sign of the potatoes coming up yet and only three of twenty-five sunflowers had decided to grace us with their presence. Beyond the garden were the mature pear trees dominating the scene. But in the calm of their shade were raspberry bushes I had weeded around and black current I had also weeded around. The work around the current took hours, it had been several years since they were cared for like this and by the end of it my hands were swore and punctured from bothersome brambles that grew up around the place. But the work was good and I liked looking over what I had accomplished that day and immediately seeing results.
After the garden work I checked in on Atoussa and we agreed that she would meet me where latent grape vines grew. It is not a vineyard but
grapes had been left in a field for a few years and now it was time to clean them up. I descended the terrace I had been doing most of my work on and passed a field that was resting. Beyond that were the kiwi vines and then up to another terrace I found the field of neglected grapes.
I spent about an hour working on five of the eight rows. They had been protected with plastic, a practice Paul has since abandoned in favor of using comfrey for mulching around his plants. The grapes were stout and dwarfish against the ground. Their branches were rangy with leaves spurting forth in random places. Many of them were clogged with weeds and the brambles I had come across all too often. Hands gloved and knees on the ground I went to work pulling and cutting out the intrusive weeds. Time passed without my notice and three rows in, Atoussa came along to prune the plants in my wake. We talked on and off while we worked until it was time to go back up to the house. My work for the day was done and she had to take Cheyen to
We went back to the greenhouse and took a few goofy pictures. Paul showed up and told us to take some leeks with us. He pulled a few from the row and Atoussa and I headed out after we gathered our things.
When I returned home and Atoussa left to get Cheyen I took the leeks and potatoes from this morning and currently have potato leek soup on the stove for dinner. The sunlight is coming through the window and my view is of a mountainside blanketed in greenery. All I can do now is take a breath of the clean air coming into the kitchen and think about the moment I am taking in.
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