In 2008, as my husband and I traveled around the country and talked with friends about our dreams for the future, a couple people mentioned to us that we should really check out this school called Yestermorrow in Warren, Vermont. We stopped by and learned more about the internship programs in late August, and decided to apply; he for the design/build internship, and me for the year-long kitchen/garden internship. To our relief, surprise, and absolute delight, we were accepted. Following the December hubbub, we wound our way through northern Canada to the Mad River Valley in Vermont.
After all the scheming and the dreaming, this will be the first big step we'll take in pursuing in earnest the dream that has been unfolding inside and between us: to some day have a 21st-century kind of homestead, with a small vegetable farm as part of our income.
Worry is an almost perpetual state for me, one that I try and try to leave behind, but I still get caught up in second-guessing the certainty of this life I'm moving toward. I almost wish I could whisper it. Farming was not supposed to be a part of my white-collar trajectory. It's almost embarrassing sometimes to tell fellow graduates from college, or those who have known me for a long time, that this is what I'm doing. The looks I get can be quite repulsive. Is everyone's career exploration this reviled?
Despite the worry, the rest of the time I feel excited and determined. For the first time ever in my adult life, I feel like I have a direction that I want to move toward that's a little bit better defined than "I want to do something to make the world better." I had always imagined doing something Big and Important that involved an office in a city, a relevant wardrobe, and lots of pounding on desks. But it seems that I have been tagged to do something a little more down to earth — literally — something ordinary that has become radical, something small but perhaps more important than it's ever been: To grow food.
My poor mother says her hair is getting grayer by the minute. She's afraid that her daughter is going to become a hardened "farm frau," old before her time and weathered like a tree on a north-facing hill. This concerns me, because she has definitely been right before when I've really wanted something. (Hello, 4-inch-heeled, lace-up knee-high boots.) Maybe this dream is romanticized or out of reach.
I suppose it could be, but we have dreamt it, so how could we not try to pursue it?
These internships are just the start. I will get to try my hand at growing a garden and will share my progress with you throughout the year. Part of my plan is to meet gardeners and farmers in the area for ideas from them — any suggestions from you, dear readers, are completely welcome. I hope at the end I have more confidence and knowledge to take it further, into the next endeavor. Even though I know I'm getting ahead of myself, I wonder about the end of the year, and what will be in store for my husband and me, my downtrodden home state of Michigan to which we are currently looking to return, and my struggling country and our neighbors; 2009 will be an interesting year to track as we all walk down connected roads leading to uncertain destinations.
Photo of garden from Yestermorrow's Campus Slideshow