Day 88 - Organic Rising
My friend Tony Suau is working on a project called Organic Rising. What was once going to be a 90-minute film is now a nine-plus hour documentary. I've watched most of it and I didn't see any cutable minutes. It's gold. Initially I'd been afraid to watch it because I was worried the information I'd get about GMO farming would make me even more reluctant to eat the food that I buy and that is set before me, but I found myself incredibly hopeful at the end, incredibly grateful for the people who are working so hard to save our planet. These people, of course, include Tony.
We went to the Santa Cruz farmer's market yesterday so Tony, a New Yorker, could check in with some friends and immerse himself in summer California produce: strawberries and dandelion greens and nectarines and dry-farmed tomatoes and then on to oysters and clams on the half shell that taste like ocean, and then this morning we headed to Route 1 Farms in Davenport while the fog was still settled in the hills.
While Tony filmed the men picking bunches of cilantro, tearing it out of the ground by the stems in fistfuls, doing a quick flip and shake to spin off excess water and to bind them together with a twist tie, I wondered off to the other end of the field to look at the dahlias and the sunflowers. I startled a hawk who was hidden inside the row of rainbow chard, and he flew off, wings loud, and started me.
I sat back on my heels to see the farm, the flowers, the chard, the fennel, the carrots, Tony and the men in the distance. I could smell the dirt. I was so happy.
I started to tear up.
I remembered this place. The outdoors. The soil. Dew on leaves. The stillness of morning.
There is an exercise I do when I teach Write or Die when I have the person describe an imagine of themselves that is most them. It can be a photograph that actually exists or one that is in their mind. It can be them at any time. Over and over again, for I have done these Write or Die classes so many times, I have described myself as a little girl standing on a fence in her nightgown, watching the hippies come out of converted chicken coop on Martha's Vineyard. Increasingly, I am morphing into the hippie woman the little girl is watching.
The hippie woman is who I would have been if I hadn't felt I'd had to please my parents. She wakes up, stretches, pulls on her clothes and goes to work at the fish market. She is not white collar or blue collar. She is no collar. Growing up, I felt so much pressure to be someone. To do something. All this meant was that I spun my wheels for most of my adult life--not feeling at all drawn to any kind of office job but believing somewhere in my brain that that was what adult me was "supposed" to do. I pleased neither myself nor my parents by commenting to nothing.
I believe in Tony's project. I see how what we eat can either fortify or kill us. I vote for fortify. I vote for vegetables that are not sprayed with chemicals that turn male frogs into female frogs. I vote for treating our planet like a precious being and not like a black hole that can absorb any toxic waste we throw its way. I vote for love. I vote for community. I vote for knowing where our food comes from and that the people who grew it made enough money to sleep well at night. I vote for listening deeply to ourselves, to our bodies, our minds, to the dirt beneath our feet. Who am I and what do I want to do next? How can I best serve myself and the world?
As Tony and I were walking to the car, he said, Is that traffic or the ocean? I stood still and listened. It was the ocean, the breathing body of water that was dissipating into air and traveling into the food that was all around us, the food that will go to the stores, to the farmer's markets, to my kitchen table, to my body.
It was such a beautiful sound.
What if the only person you had to please was yourself? What would happen? What would you do? What clothes would you wear? What music would you listen to? What food would you eat? Who would you love?
See you tomorrow.
Here's a trailer for Organic Rising: https://vimeo.com/124784749. I hope it makes you as happy as it makes me.