I’ve been cleaning out the pepper greenhouse the past two days. Pete asked me to save the seed too so that we can reuse it. You can’t just save the seeds from all the peppers. If they have just a hint of too much green, the seeds aren’t ready yet and won’t make a new plant. Which means I have to go through and pull out all the ripest peppers from the trash piles I swept up yesterday.
And then it occurred to me, just now, that saving pepper seeds is probably a lot like finding a good husband. The only seeds worth saving are in the peppers that are the sweetest and the most mature. It’s even okay if they’re a little rotten on the top.
When you decide to be a farmer, no one tells you that the scariest part is gonna be peeing in an unlit outhouse in the dark at 5 in the morning and having a frog jump into your lap.
We had a few stowaways from the farm in the market truck this morning. Think they’ll make it back to Wadmalaw from downtown?
The olives are ready.
Arbequina Spanish olives from Wadmalaw Island, SC
Labor Day trip to Botany Bay Plantation on Edisto
Highlight of the day: 4 o’clock gator feeding at the Serpentarium
Will return to: the gorgeous natural beach lined with live oak skeletons decorated in giant sea shells
I never knew: Hunter Lee was so diligent about reading every piece of historical information as we toured the plantation
Now I want to know: what Egyptian wheat is and whether corn is considered a grain. I know I should know that but I don’t
Dying wish: To have a tree named after me
Anybody know: what a sea cloud is?
Wish I coulda met: Oqui, a Japanese botanist who planted olives, spices, fruit and other beautiful things on the plantation in the 1840’s
I hope: no one ever builds anything there ever. And I mean it.
Y'all ready for those pigs?
No. That's like askin' someone if they're ready to get married. You're never ready. The date jus catches up with you. That's why people just don't set a date
Taking some light meter readings. That broccoli raab is winning big time.
I stopped picking lunchbox peppers this afternoon in order to help Arturo Ruiz and Arturo Escobar begin to transplant our Fall set of tomatoes. We ordered them from Florida last week and with the rain and cooler weather that started this afternoon, it was finally time to get them in the ground.
Sam ran the tractor down the field to poke some holes in the plastic. We loaded the red pick-up truck bed with flats. I untangled and dropped the transplants at each of the holes moving from row to row as Arturo and Arturo plugged the plants into the ground behind me. Pete stopped us halfway down the first two rows to teach me how to tell if “the guy knows what he’s doing or not out there.” Basically, if you pull upward on the top leaf of the plant and the leaf snaps off, the plant has been pushed firmly enough into the ground. If instead you end up unearthing the whole plant, it was planted too loose. I explained the test to the two Arturos, learned the word for pull (arrancar) and we continued to go about our job.
It started to sprinkle, then rain came steadily. And considering that I hate rain jackets, and considering it ‘s been in the upper 90’s with high humidity all week, I just let that rain fall all over me. The water felt so good, cooling down the air and the ground and my skin. It also meant that mud and potting soil was sticking to every inch of me as I stocked and restocked on plugs. Halfway through I lifted a flat of tomatoes from my right shoulder, accidentally knocking a big clump of dirt from my cheek right into my mouth. I looked for a clean area of my shirt, my arm, anything to wipe my lips off on and finding everything dirty I just spit in the other direction, laughed and kept going, mumbling in Spanish “tierra en mi boca.” Tierra is the very first word I learned in Spanish at the farm. Tierra and sol. Dirt and sun. Dirt in my mouth.
Arturo laughed at my mumbling and asked me how to say “boca” in English. Which was followed by two minutes of he, the other Arturo, and I phonetically saying “mmmmm-owwwww-TH” over and over again very slowly as we quickly trudged further down the row. But one English word is never enough for a basket-ball obsessed fieldhand from Chiapas.
"Como se dice, ‘bonita boca’?" he asked.
Pretty. Pretty mouth, I said, tasting earthy potting soil on my tongue.
Pridee? He repeated.
Mmmm how about beautiful?
Let’s stick with pretty.
"Olvidado la palabra de la boca." [I forgot the word for mouth.] Arturo said.
Mmmmowwwwth I said.
Priddy Mowf, Arturo repeated over and over to the end of the row.
He could’ve been saying it to make fun of the dirt on my lips.
He could have been practicing to try out his new-found pick-up line (heyyyy pretty mouth) on some cashier he’s been eyeing at the Piggly Wiggly.
In all likelihood he was just earnestly trying to add a few more English words into his South Carolina lexicon.
But by the end of the row, my mouth felt pretty.
My overheated body felt refreshed.
And Arturo humored all the ugly, worried, mid-August nonsense right out of my unclean lips.
August at the farm. Leggy shade-grown radishes, arugula, peppers, okra blossoms, wild chanterelle mushrooms out our ears, a tired pup now big enough to roam all 200 acres, and somewhere in the beginning I actually wore a dress. (Happy Wedding Emily! Texas was hot and beautiful just like you ;) )
You know you’re spoiled when your kitchen is overflowing with these “regular old dinner ingredients”. We made the best dinner last night with friends, steak, and blistered shishito peppers, a fancy cheese plate and a pizza with local whole wheat crust, goat cheese, prosciutto, figs, mozzarella, honey, black pepper, roasted garlic and arugula.
Sometimes this life feels too luxurious.