Monday, June 30, 2014

Icing on the Cake

As promised to calendar holders. I am writing the story behind each month's calendar photo this year.
Horseneck Beach wasn't planned.  I don't even think I knew of its proximity to Eva's in advance, or I might've planned for it.  But as it was, the trip to Dartmouth was for Eva's:  to meet the infamous Eva Sommaripa and her living legend-of-a farm.  I'd begun to know Eva and her farm by way of my ever-inspiring client-student-friend Didi Emmons--author-chef-restaurateur extraordinaire--as they were the subject of her newest book, Wild Flavorsa feast-of-an unconventional cookbook and a treasure-trove-of-an inspirational story of transformation, mentorship, friendship, foraging, and celebration of "the interconnectedness and beauty of nature, farms, animals, and ourselves."  So this is where all the magic happens, I thought as I walked the grounds with Didi.  Magic and lots of hard work.  Eva's herbs and greens and flowers supply the choosiest of chefs in the Boston area and beyond--chefs like Didi, and like Odessa Piper whom I had the pleasure of meeting over the plucking of flowers and herbs and greens for the evening meal.  It is a certain sort of gentle and organic talking and getting to know that happens in the garden rows while harvesting like this, I discovered.  Not chatting, not conversation, but something in between:  a mirror of the flow, the natural unfolding that is the living food sprung from the earth right before our eyes, hands, knees, no doubt. It was honor and delight enough to be invited by Didi to her esteemed colleague-mentor-friend's home and Garden for dinner and an overnight.  But an honor to the nth to break bread with a rare assortment of chefs, earth-loving farmer sorts and young intern farm hands.  Eva's Garden is a little world unto itself, and I felt so privileged to be welcomed into that world, to observe it in living motion, to partake of it. We ate fresh pizza from the recently added outdoor wood burning oven.  We picked bowls full of Japanese quince flowers and viola, garnish for the salad, for dessert, and for just plain munching. I brought gifts from Love's Freeway for Eva:  flower images that I thought she would especially enjoy.  Didi brought her knockout banana bread (remem- ber, cardamom!) and special cheeses to share.  Others brought fine wines for sipping with them. Eva's tiny galley kitchen, smaller than some closets I've seen, was a model of efficiency and the efficacious use of space and resources--of "nothing wasted," in two words:  not time, not space, not food or its scraps or remainders.  Even chicken bones were composted.  Odessa cooked for us come morning:  breakfast frittata, with a flourish.  She needed strawberry plant photos and a head shot for her next book, and I tried some for her.  Ben showed me the land behind the tulip beds where Eva would let him coop and run chickens in exchange for fresh, organic eggs from happy hens.  This lovely, organic give and take is a way of life at Eva's farm, to the benefit and sustenance of all concerned. The time at Eva's was good food for body and soul.  And by the time it came time to leave, I was happily sated by it all.   Aside from wanting to make a stop for farm-fresh eggs, I was full, complete, and ready to return home.  That's why it surprised me when I turned the wheel in the direction of Horseneck, farther south, instead of north, toward the city.  I'm so glad I did.  I met with the sudden beauty of a new (to me) beach--a new angle, a new view--and more new friends.  Stone friends, this time:  this beach is abundantly "peopled" with them.  And they pulled my hands, my camera lens down and down, close to the earth to meet them, to snap them at their level, from their point of view.  Who could have known then that the afterthought of the journey, the unexpected side trip, would come to be featured on this year's Language of Love calendar, to keep us in good company all June long? So many are the gifts of going Love's way. 


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