Sunday, September 09, 2007

Of Beauty and Bumps

In tomato-season time we, who have the luxury of NOT having a hoophouse full of thriving tomato plants which threaten to hang on producing for another 4 weeks even while the frost is on the pumpkins and our feet ache a lot and also just a little bit more each day and our largest-sized t-shirts are all stretching over the site-line of our feet, are reaching the 11th hour. And so, time to reflect, but really refract, a bit on what time it was:

The intact tomato on the left, a forsaken Brandywine (chosen neither by OH Farm members at a veggie pic-up - no offense taken, members - nor by gawkers and handlers at the ONE farmers' market) is one of the most remarkable things we had the good fortune to harvest this season. It resisted any hopes for symmetry in knife-approaches, displayed absolutely no pattern of clues for how it sewed itself up so successfully on the bottom-end (just a fascinating maze of sinews and cleaves), and then of course it tasted absolutely amazing. And I am not really even that big of a fan of the Brandywine, the heirloom commoner around these parts.

To the right is a sliced-up Nyagous, a late-season variety, peerless in terms of taste and color. (Well, the ever-evasive Druzba might be its slightly larger Doppelganger, and we'll research that next season).

Strangely, high-tomato time is coinciding with other events which inevitably evoke thoughts on conventional perceptions of beauty:

I have to admit these days that I simply do not have the same shape that I had a year ago today. Walking by shop windows downtown is always a shocker (no full-length mirrors in the apartment) and while I never considered that mirrored reflection beauteous in conventional or non-conventional terms pre-pregnancy, I now must reconcile the fact that strangers now DO look at me with smiles and hellos quite often. While walking through a crowded street I imagine I am accompanied by Gweneth Paltrow or Leonardo, fielding innumerable double-takes and shameless gapes.

Of course, those stares are focused squarely on my mid-section. But it's nice to know that even if I wouldn't get taken home at $3 a pound, people still are curious enough to stop to take a second look. Perhaps another definition of the power of beauty.

I should also note about this photo that I was really serving as a reflector for the light of the flash, whose flashing was allowing Josh to get some of the really interesting skyline we glanced last night through the streets of downtown B-town. Despite the mish-mashedness of the architecture (the funny-shaped, almost un-Christian shaped, Cathedral; the dreadful yet beckoning high-rise Courtyard Marriott), it's always fun to look upwards across the horizon at my favorite time of the day.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Act 250

Preface for those outside B-town: Act 250 is a 20 some year old Vermont law regulating land use, that has been described to me in its general purpose as something to ensure Vermont doesn't become like New Jersey (sorry Jersey!). I haven't talked to any lawyers about it, but it seems super-general.

Second Preface: Even tho it's a political issue the following post is still very important to the daily functioning of OHF.

Someone has already called me out on my promise to write more on the blog, and there is a political issue that is burning me up (even beyond another ninety degree day), and that's what blogs are for, so . . .

In fact, it's hard not to imagine that the blogosphere floating above burlington isn't full of alot of what I'll say, but electronic democracy here it goes:

It is hard to believe that someone wants to shut down (or even make life harder for) Intervale Compost. In fact, my first question always is: who could this possibly be benefiting. Certainly not Burlington residents, who would do what with their yard and food waste. Not Organic Farmers whose land this compost nourishes.

It would seem the public arguments for enforcing the law (and if it just seems unfair to you to start enforcing a law 5 or 10 years after a business has been running, well, that's just one you'll have to piece together) are run-off into lake Champlain. To me this is the single most powerful argument, the largest problem for Compost. My counter-argument goes something like this: on balance this operation does alot more good for the environment than bad. I mean, for one, it is part of the reason Burlington is thought of at all as a green city. But forget the above mentioned items that the state gov might rather see land-filled, what about the product, the compost that is created. Isn't, as the ads on tv always say, the petrol fertilizers that people put on their lawns and gardens way worse for the lake than the compost. Then think about the added disease resistance using compost and compost teas gives you over some of these fertilizers, so that maybe you don't have to use deadly pesticides.

Then there is a second argument which is just a historical mindf-ck (I hope no children are reading this, excuse my language), the archaeological one. This has to do with sacred sites of the Abenaki. This is a tough one to beat, since it is almost impossible to concieve of being in a more politically correct spot than Native Americans. The now peaceful image we have of Native Americans seems to be generally true of the Abenaki (I coincidentally have been reading about them). Very respectful of the balance of nature, and in fact farmers of the Intervale themselves, albeit a few years earlier. From what I've read thus far of the religion and customs I can't imagine that taking the Vermont environment a few steps backward is what any Abenaki wants, but . . .

Someone said this whole thing was started by a citizen whistleblower, well I certainly hope Intervale Compost gets to face whoever really does want to give them trouble. Would it be a blog if I didn't give my conspiracy theory? Conventional Farms would be an obvious target, but it could just be that a lot of farms outside of Burlington would be find it a lot easier to crack the market if it was a lot harder for Intervale farmers to get compost. Well, even saying it I admit it sounds a little crackpot, and the mere fact that I've had this long to think about it this long means the season must be slowing down at least a little.

One thing we can all agree on, Vermonters sure like their tempests in their teapots.