Is your tomato ripe or rotten? Or is it both?

A quick summary of the last couple months: July brought the madness, the stress, the exhaustion. In mid-August it peaked, and then September 1st things started feeling different, similar to how things felt when we arrived. A little slower, a little less rushed, more about accomplishing a bigger task than pumping out the smaller tasks faster than humanly possible. (example: boxing tomatoes…”here are a million tomatoes. sort out the split, unripe and overripe ones and box them. Start now, and be done by yesterday.”)

Let me elaborate on this “madness” I speak of, mostly because if I don’t it will be too easy for someone outside looking in to assume that my life is strictly field-frolicking, tomato-hugging, gourmet meal-eating bliss.

Block Island is basically 91% dormant 9 months out of the year. If you own a business here, you have three months to make the majority of your yearly income–June, July, August.  The pressure to make the most of the tourist season brings endless buckets of stressful moments and stressful days, and for these three months the island is teeming with overworked, under-slept, borderline traumatized employees and waay overworked waay under-slept, and borderline terrifying bosses.  As a farm apprentice making barely anything, and making just as little during tourist season as the rest of the season, I didn’t have the added bonus of money-adrenaline to power me through the days when I didn’t have much left to give. But the flower buckets don’t wash themselves, as they say.

Right now it’s Sunday morning, the beginning of my weekend. It’s a beautiful sunny morning, and I’m sitting on a bench under the shade of a tree outside of the closed library soaking up some free wifi (we haven’t had internet on the farm since “hurricane” Irene), people watching, bird listening and reuniting with an old friend by the name of facebook.  It is so quiet and still and peaceful that the work week feels like such a distant, faint memory… somewhere between a dream and youtube video someone once sent you that you wished you never watched but kind of want to watch again, if you know what I mean.

And that’s how life goes on Block Island, ‘tis a bittersweet jumble of ups and downs. Mind-blowing beauty, whimsical wonder and delicious discoveries intricately interwoven with the looming sadness that nothing lasts forever, that even with the most beautiful of tomatoes it is a fine line between ripe and rotten.  The last two weeks have probably been the most challenging weeks yet, though I’m pretty sure I’ve been ending every week saying that for the past couple of months.  The dirt, the sore muscles, the physical exhaustion, these were all things I was expecting coming into this endeavor.  All the rest of the challenges have just been added bonuses, little surprise treats for extra flavor.  My patience has been tested like never before, as has my ability to not let the stress and chaos of another’s life affect my own wellbeing. That’s been a tough one, because stress can do some scary things to a person (and I’m very sensitive!).

The sweat, the tears, the bee stings (got stung for the first time this week! On my lip– free and natural botox!), the sunsets, the fresh kale, the ocean time…they all come together. You can’t order the good stuff separately and tell them to hold the bad stuff because you’re watching your figure. You just have to mix it all together, pepper it right up, and take a big bite…

om nom nom, sunset!

nommy nom nom, tomato horn worm!

So that’s what I’m doing.  Im doing the best I can to embrace it all, to accept and appreciate it all. To not dwell too much on pain of the past or the absolute uncertainty of the future. Just keep pecking away, right chickens?



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