There’s something about this time of year that makes me reminisce about Maui. Maybe it’s the quality of light and blueness in the sky. Maybe it’s the warm wind. Maui is in an almost perpetual state of springtime. It is paradise. Not without blemish, but with breathtaking and unforgettable beauty.
I can’t think of Maui for long without thinking about the beach. The ocean is such an enticing blue. The air is never cold so the water is always welcoming. But the waves are the real experience. They are beautiful to look at and a real challenge to ride.
On a day when the waves are big, but not too big it’s magical to go out in them and play. The water can be a mess by the shore. The top of the water pulls you in while the water at your feet pulls you out, or maybe vice versa, depending on the waves. There’s sand suspended in the water and a lot of movement. Often, the best way to make it through is dive right in. Even then you may get tumbled into the ocean floor, a nose full of good salt water and hair full of sand. If you’re lucky and dive deep enough, you’ll come out on the other side of the wave, missing the worst of the commotion, with time to catch your breath before you have to dive through the next one.
And that’s Spring for you. Enticing and beautiful, and also full of effort, excitement, loss, experimentation, surprise.
Often this week I’ve found myself wondering why I feel so ruffled and harried. We’ve released ourselves from the demands of producing for a larger CSA. We’re planting probably one third the amount of my fellow farmwives. But even with our smaller scale, each day promises many hours in the garden. This is the nature of Spring. Sometimes it feels like the work will never end and we’ll be tumbled below forever, but we won’t. We will surface into that glorious sunshine again.
The surf looked heavy, so we dove deep. All the potatoes are planted and the onions are finally in the ground. Even some peas, God willing they should thrive in whatever weather comes. It doesn’t look like much now, but there’s satisfaction in having it done.
Nothing ever seems to thrive early at our place. It stays so wet, so cold down here for so long. We have heavy pressure from cutworms too. We are experimenting with the spring garden. This year, we used the wheel hoe and (with great effort) sliced back strips of ground. The brassicas – broccolis and cabbages – as well as lettuces, chard, spinach and bok choys, were planted straight into the sliced back rows. Thick strips of overgrown winter weeds lay on either side. It’s a gamble, but the idea is that there will still be plenty else for the cutworms to eat. So far, so good. No losses.
In the garden, some brassicas that were planted late last fall in a corner and never identified suddenly made small bright purple cauliflower heads. That was a winner we didn’t see coming. They were nice in a coconut milk curry. The tide was in our favor.
A hungry varmint has eaten all of our setting turkeys’ eggs. Bonnet, our most reliable setter, may have just been a few days from hatching her small brood. Fiddle, the other hen, was just settling into what looked like a nice hidden spot, stashing away an egg a day. I looked one day and saw only one egg. The next day there were none. We forgot to put the box over Bonnet one night and suddenly her eggs were missing too. Fresh raccoon tracks criss-cross the mud all around the poultry yard. No chicken dinner for that critter, but a nice omelet nonetheless. Nasty undertow.
One of the sweetest things about this time of year is knowing that we’re not alone in the waves. A phone call away, I learn that most of my friends are also putting out their potatoes and scurrying to make the most of the dry ground before the coming rain (may it be gentle).
I remember playing on the beach with friends. Diving under the waves and coming up again, smiling and laughing with one another. “Did you see the turtle?” “Did you hear the whales singing?” “Watch out, here comes another one!”
And after so much strenuous effort, we finally get beyond the breaking waves, to the rollers. There, we are rocked by the swaying seas, lulled in the troughs between, and gently lifted to the crests. There might be breaching whales. Our skin is salty and there’s a great sunset. What a view!
So it is, on the deck, looking at the farm before I call the family to come in for the day. We’re tired from our exertions, but Lulah’s gladiolas are planted, snapdragons on the way. She still reads us a book every day and even volunteers to work equations in a math book. Her cartwheels are nearly perfect. With the help of his capable big sister, Levon explores the burgeoning world, eats, sleeps, plays and grows. The tom turkey struts and does the best he can to protect his girls. Rooster guys crow their pride to the waiting world. The air is sweet with growth of the greening garden. We will ride the tumult of these waves on into summer. The salt on our skin is from our sweat now, but the sunsets are still great.
What a view.