This past week our class field trip was to Willow Pond Farm, a community farm just down the road in Brentwood, NH. When we arrived it was about eight o’clock and the newly sprouted grass was still covered in dew. Soon, as the sun warmed our backs and the flies swarmed our faces, it really began to feel like spring. After we chatted with Emma and Joanie, two women who are currently working on and organizing the farm, we got to work helping transplant spinach into the ground. The twelve of us worked quickly, some people dug small holes in the soil while others watered the ground as we replanted each clump of spinach. After each pod of spinach was in the ground we watered them with a nutritious and smelly slurry of liquid-seaweed fertilizer. The soil was light and fluffy and the little spinach plants were hardy – “just rip their roots up a little bit before you put them into the ground” Emma instructed us – so the work was relatively undemanding.
I can imagine that almost none of us “Lit and the Landers” woke up that morning thinking, “Man I’d love to go out and get dirty and bug bitten and plant spinach this morning” but I’ve noticed that once you get going with something, it’s pretty easy to enjoy it. I’m reminded of all the times my parents have asked me to help with chores around the house. In the winter we constantly have to bring in firewood for our woodstove, and thus “guys can you each carry in two loads of wood please?” is a common request to me and my two siblings. I usually grumble and put it off as long as I can, preferring to stay curled on the couch. The hardest part is making myself get up and put on boots, a coat and, of course, finding both a right and a left hand glove. Our woodpile is only on the other side of the driveway, so it’s really not that far or hard. I load up my arms with a couple of logs and trudge back inside, balancing the stack carefully when I reach to open and close the back door. I’m not sure if it’s the fresh air, the physical activity or just the feeling of being helpful, but by the time I fulfilled my quota and dropped my second armful of wood inside, I end going out for more. Sometimes it’s just one more trip; sometimes it’s four or five. Once I get going I realize that “hey, that wasn’t so bad” and that I actually enjoy doing these jobs.
There’s something about working outside with your hands that is so satisfying. I think almost everyone felt it after we patted the last baby spinach plant into the ground and gazed down the row at our progress. When we finished we looked around for more work, but it was time to head back to campus and so we all piled into the red dragon with muddy shoes, seaweed smelling hands and big smiles on our faces.