Makenna Goodman  @  ChelseaGreen

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How I Got Back to the Land, Car Trouble, and 'Eco-Sexy'

Posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2009 at 11:38 am by Makenna Goodman

It's March. I fled New York City two and a half months ago, and moved to the outskirts of a small town in the hills of central Vermont. I wake up each morning, look out my window, breathe in the fresh air, and think: Damn. Two months ago I was miserable and felt like life was a vertical line of accumulation. Now I don't.

Up here, it's that time before spring when the weather gets a little warmer, and–even though it's going to snow through the end of the month–I'm starting to think about what's going to be in our garden come May. I still get so excited when I think of having a garden! (How did I get here?!) I have Eliot Coleman's The New Organic Grower on my bedside table and I'm taking notes–this book is perfect for those interested in starting a garden, by the way. Today, I am considering artichoke plants. I'm going to buy ten or fifteen of them at Cedar Circle Farm, an organic farmstand and education center in East Thetford, VT (co-manager, Will Allen, wrote The War on Bugs), which is about half an hour from my house. It's still a bit early for ordering the rest of our seeds, but I'm already researching good mayonnaise recipes for the chokes. Any tips? Before I continue though, here are some things for the sake of background, to flesh myself out.

One: I went to high school in NYC, but I grew up in the backwoods of Colorado until I was ten, so I'm not 100% city girl. What I mean is, I own dresses and whatnot, but I will be sharing no stories of slipping in pig manure in stiletto heels. Two: When I was sixteen, I spent a semester of high school at a Vermont farm school in Vershire (The Mountain School) and it changed my life. Then, during college, I worked on a farm for the summer, as a member of The Mountain School farm crew. So I'm not completely a stranger to the world of agriculture and farming as a way of life. I'm more of a semi-novice. Three: I'm living with someone who has a small farm and wants me to run it with him. We have a dog (Frida), electricity, the internet, and a subscription to Netflix. So I'm not doing this alone, or in a lopsided shack on a dead end road. And last, I found a day job, right here at Chelsea Green. So I'm not going to be farming, sewing, or slaughtering all day–but it's not like I'm sitting on a massive inheritance, or dabbling in egg-collecting on my days off from Exxon Mobil business school. Just thought I'd wipe away all inklings of the Devil Wears Prada bullshit I am not that interested in perpetuating. There will be drama, yah. But nothing "eco-sexy." I hate that. I'm talking an exploration into the grounded, the intentional–an engagement into the sensuality that is life.

This week, I was faced with not so sensual realities of driving in Vermont. I was on my way home for the weekend, and it was raining pretty hard. Our driveway is long, uphill, and lately pretty roughed up by logging trucks coming in to chip. On the worst turn up past a section of land being logged pretty heavily, I got stuck in a muddy rut and slid on some ice into the bank. Sitting in a stuck car–with tires whirring and rain coming down–is horror movie material. And while I knew this wasn't life or death, a pathetic sense of helplessness set in. I'd have to walk the rest of the way, and I didn't want to. I looked around for a flashlight, and nada. No cell phone service, either. I'm not the biggest fan of the dark, but I got out of the car anyway (what else could I do?) and walked about a mile up the road using my cell phone light to guide me on mud and ice. I saw wolves everywhere. Stumps loomed and lunged at me. I sang T-Rex "By the Light of the Magical Moon" which had been playing in the car, to scare away forest beasts. I walked and walked, and I will admit, I was flipping out a bit–it was pitch black, and I'd had some bad anxiety in New York, and felt it coming back. I'm still getting used to a world where cell phones don't work in most places, weather defines how people live, and at times all you have is just yourself on a dark road, your groceries left a ways back in a bottomed-out car by the side of the road.

But in the end, it wasn't that bad. I got home alive and drank a beer and then we went out with the truck, hitched up the car, and dragged it out. Took about five minutes. I slept well, woke up on Saturday, ate eggs from a farm in Bethel, and went to see the local high school girls' basketball team make it to the playoffs. No big deal! This week, I'm ordering seeds and de-worming the dog, for starters. I'll keep you posted…

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