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Getting a Jump on Chukat

Shabbat at the Farm

Today we went to Caretaker Farm -- the CSA where we've belonged for the last decade -- to get this week's share of the harvest. We missed the last two distributions, thanks to the family vacation, and while we were away the Farm hit its summer stride: we came away with spectacular heads of lettuce, curling garlic scapes, late radishes, an enormous bundle of scallions, and vibrant multicolored chard (with red and yellow stems). In addition to what was available for us in the barn, we picked two glorious pac choi, a bag of spinach, a hefty handful of mint (not cultivated; it grows wild beside the farm pond) and a quart of sugar-snap peas.

On my way to the yellow flag that marked the sugar-snap rows, I ran into a friend from shul. "Shabbat shalom," she called, opening her arms to hug me. We exchanged holiday greetings, beaming at each other, and I told her my favorite Shabbat-at-the-Farm story -- about my minister friend Rick in the cherry tomato row one summer Saturday, declaring that this is some of the holiest ground he knows.

It is for me, too. The land at Caretaker has been lovingly stewarded. (Not just organic, Caretaker is operated on biodynamic principles.) Every week community comes together there: children petting the barn cat on the rock beside the flower garden, adults picking and talking and laughing in the fields. In the distribution barn the floorboards are worn from years of townsfolk filling our canvas bags with abundance that makes manifest the glory of creation. The passage of time and flow of the seasons is celebrated there. What could be more sacred?

It didn't take long to fill my quart container with peas. I couldn't resist popping one into my mouth as I picked. It was crisp and crunchy and tasted the way a field of green looks: fresh and earthy and powerful. As I savored it I said a blessing, thanking the Source of Life for keeping me alive and sustaining me and bringing me to that moment, to the sun on my face and the dirt beneath my feet and the first impossibly sweet and vibrant sugar-snap pea of the year.

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