I hit my midlife crisis pretty hard and in a very unimaginative standard textbook way. Here’s how you do it; drop out of the society you worked so hard to get into, watch your job collapse along with the entire economy of the nation, trifle with people you should not be trifling with, get a motorcycle and drive at night without a license drunk with and without passengers, take up with new and dangerous friends, sleep in the woods or in a stone hut in the woods you built in a field famous for people taking ACID, and spend time on a lamasery or commune. Well, I did not exactly spend time in a commune but rather a CSA or Community Supported Agricultural farm.
It is In My Humbler Opinion (IMHO) that since saying “commune” or “hippies” is bad because hippies are dirty and communes are filled with transient idle young dreamer college-aged [predominantly] women – which sound/ed/s pretty G/g/o/_d/s/es/ess damn great to me – we say “CSA” instead since it sounds better to tell mummy and dada you are working at a CSA rather than banging hot chicks at a farm where college educated people to toss away their expensive paper degree into the compost heap. I have to warn the ensuing generations not to toss their degree into the compost heap. As worthless as your B.S. in Comparative Zuni Creative Spoken Word Pottery Barn Rum Ham degree from Holyoke-Maryknoll-Vassar is, the ink is surprisingly toxic, and if you want to keep your organic certification, you don’t want printed materials ending up in the hopper.
I was taken back to these purposely repressed memories from long ago by a recent visit to a working herb farm that was acting as a B&B for a bunch of assembled witnesses who were in the area for a good friend’s second marriage ceremony since the first one ended in what I think is the definition of “Shitshow” when one looks it up in either Urban or Oxford dictionaries. The herb farm was run by a number of people who were either part of one large extended relationship or several since upon arrival our preternaturally voluptuous Earth goddess hostess greeted us at the door and then introduced us to so many people before giving us the tour of the ancient and now partitioned patroon. The house was partially restored and was festooned with crystals. In the entryway. The hallway. The bedroom. The dining room. Of course, there were plenty of these rocks in the meditation room. One would expect that. I half expected to find a crystal in the back of the toilet or some other inventive place. In all, it was a welcoming place and I cannot say anything about energy because along with a tin ear and the inability to recognize people if I see them in different clothes and in places I am not used to seeing them in, I have dreams where I see into the future, have met the Devil on several occasions, have seen ghosts and UFOs, and am superstitious as were pre-modern Indo Europeans, but I don’t generally find crystals to turn me on. Tune me up. Or whatever boom-shaka-laka they’re supposed to do to my chakras or energy channels or cosmic super actualization self-realizing self-hack chumbawumba.
They say our sense of smell is the longest memory you will have. It is embedded in our prehistoric survival codex. The smell was the same as the old farm from long before. The wide pine boards and the position of the staircase in an old farm house with cracked lath and plaster walls, however. The smell of ramps was coming out of the cold ground and everyone talking about ramps, although. The teas in jars and general funk of youth and hope and life and sex and remind you of trembling happiness and the creaking door with the latch and no locks because come in it’s open but take your shoes off and tiptoe in socks getting dirty because of the clay soil is powder and there is a room upstairs but don’t wake anyone because your presence has not been announced, and no one knows you and the room up those pine boards it is still lit by candles and in front of the mirror of the ancient nightstand there are feathers, leafs, and rocks and candles and the room is chilly as the heat is not on but the feather comforter is heavy and smells like the clothes line sunshine and fresh hay and this enveloping castle is held open for you by a hand that has been waiting since half past eight but no longer is mad that you took so long since you were wandering in the inky night on your small desperate motorcycle searching for that answer what would stop you from falling because this is tonight and it will never happen again.
So, perhaps the crystals were having a small impact on my psyche since while present for the moment of nuptials and the person I am with… There were moments when I was transported to some other time as if entering a ghost world and all three spirits who were to visit Ebenezer Scrooge had come for me but at once and to not shed any light on anything that has happened, is happening, or will occur.
Snapping out of my reverie, I sat drinking my coffee at the table and chatting with the couple who were weekending there and about to go hiking for the day on a mountain that most spend three to conquer. I noshed on cereal from a box and munched stupidly between nods and polite exclamations to ensure my cultural informants that yes, I was listening and yes this place I mean can you look about I mean this place is really great, and we are here for a wedding I mean not here but staying here yes just for the weekend. But we had to leave since the guests are met, the feast is set, mayest hear the merry din.
In my Sunday Party Clothes (SPC), I went into the taxi and thought some little more.
My time at the CSA was perhaps but a few months. Maybe it was just a summer. One growing season that started in ramps and ended in the harvest of winter squash and the acrid and lonely taste of my moving abruptly to Boston to earn the money pieces I needed in order to turn them into food and shelter. But, what an eventful whirlwind where I learned so much about the culture of the modern commune.. ahem.. CSA. The composition of the CSA was primarily Caucasian and almost exclusively female. The female farmers seemed evenly split between sexual orientation between women who enjoyed other women and women who enjoyed tall blond men with icy blue eyes and names like Lachlan, Hakon, Sigurd, or Yngve. These tall, thin blood gods did not work on the farm but came to “visit” when the moon was in the right position. They were usually off building sailboats in Jackson Hole, carving wooden canoes in Arcadia, or designing new silk screening methods in Colorado, or thinking about building a sail boat or a new silk screen method whilst sitting on the porch swing smoking dank weed at 10 AM on a Tuesday as the other half of the binary sexual relationship went about putting in or out chickens and harvesting the share for the expectant and highly neurotic clientele. Of the people who appeared to collect their shares, the majority seemed to be older gray haired first-time parents who wanted to ensure that Zoe would not come into contact with nuts until after they got a Ph.D. and Damien – oh they are such a talented child as they are learning about Mayan Ayahuasca enema rituals at Dalton Day Woods Field Country Kindergarten Early College school – would eat only organic with a reward of carob chocolate when they were good.
Breakfast at a CSA was always an exquisite gastronomic experience, and that says a lot since breakfast is sort of hard to get wrong and is good at any time in the day, but these breakfasts were made of fresh everything. While the refrigerator was a complicated nightmare of Byzantium eating habits and esoteric arrangements maintained through countless CSA meetings and unspoken rules set at the coven of the moon garden, the eggs were just pooped out of the chicken’s tokhes, the bacon cured by a boyfriend (the one with the red beard), and the bread made and just out of the wood fired oven. It was more often than not, just my friend and I at the table enjoying breakfast before the farmer’s chores had to start. I assisted in whatever I could do, but usually, I was just turned loose to wander the property or run some errands as a midlife crisis had much more paperwork and many more important appointments than you may expect. It is not easy to just break down into pieces these days and be alone on a rock watching the sunset and revisiting those sophomoric philosophical questions that remained unanswered. Later, I would return for dinner.
Dinnertime was a much more social experience. The unattended menfolk would meander in from far away as the women would come in from their toiling in the fields with the harvest balanced on one ample hip and a growler of ale balanced on the other. I was really starting to like feminism. So liberating, I thought, as I stuffed my face with the fruits of Mother Natures dark and abundant loins harvested by such generous and attuned, educated and still-hopeful, earthy but sexy farmers. The menfolk did not talk much to each other but at the right hour, we retired to our nightly activities whatever they were.
My post-dinner activity was to go on adventures at the behest of my farmer friend who being tied to The Land in a sacred relationship of stewardship as part of an unending tapestry of generations who had come before and scions yet-to-be-born but who must inherit a still green earth, wanted nothing better than to jump on the back of my motorcycle and fly off into the raging darkness to get as far away from The Land as possible before to have again tend and toil in the fields.
And so this little herb farm I was staying in reminded me of so much movement and a life of so long ago. The weather was still cold as winter had not fully broken but the residents of the farm were already out there setting up planting boxes and piling earth here and there. In the kitchen and a few other locations about the house were sprouting green starter plants. But, we were not there to say for the day lost in personal memories or to take our mat to do yoga in the meditation room but had to ready ourselves for the wedding and the marathon cocktails and dinner of the evening. I am not sure what happened to that farmer I knew. I am sure all the chickens we put away are now long-dead. As I packed my bags the day after the wedding, I said goodbye to the herb farm, I also was able to return in better order a set of memories that had been kicking about in the junk drawer of my mind.