It’s a warm August Thursday at Farmstead. Pizzas are rolling from the wood-fired oven, the parking lot is crowded, and the hat full of prompts has been circulated for the three-word poetry challenge. Pens whisper on lined paper, and folks take a moment to step onto the pergola-covered stage to read their creations.
At the front counter, between scooping gelato and taking orders, I sneak in writing my own challenge poem. The words I pulled from the hat were: daunting, swine, lingual (yes, I know, swine again!). Here is what I wrote that Thursday:
Daunting are the days of summer
Early rise to chore time
Clucking hens and squealing swine
Hauling feed and schlepping water.
1st shift complete as grumbling livestock quiet
Ducks splash in their pool
And sheep nibble the verdure of the pasture.
Wash my face, change the clothes
2nd shift with breakfast at Farmstead
Crank up the umbrellas, restock the cases
Welcome the hungry who’ve ventured down the gravel road.
Answer endless questions
— How many people work here?
— How long has this been here?
Clean the glass, sweep the floor.
3rd shift starts at 4:00, transition to pizza
Wood smoke in the air, change the menu
Catch up on dishes and cleaning tables
Set up the furniture and sound gear
Welcome weavers of the lingual arts
Take the orders, pour the wine.
4th shift starts as the last cars leave
Sweep the floors, collect the refuse
Share a meal at a table lined with tired feet.
Trundle back home, change the clothes again
Lock in sleepy birds and feed the hungry
Batten down for another night
Until 1st shift starts again.
And then today was the monthly Writer’s Circle Gathering on second Sundays. Frank Zufall and I shared prompts, setting the timer before writing hurriedly. One particular 10-minute prompt was “Breakfast Cooking.” Here is what I wrote:
I’m 10 minutes late for opening — again. Seems like no matter all my good intentions, my getting up extra early, whatever, something comes along during chores, and here I am rushing down to the Creamery. On this day, the cucumbers needed picking before they swelled into yellowed zeppelins, and all the birds needed extra rounds of water on account of the heat we’ve been experiencing.
Now I’m tucking the morning’s eggs into the cooler, slinging my omnipresent red bag with notebook and supplies over my left shoulder, and hurrying in the door. Mom and Steve are already on duty, hot water kettles hissing, the grind of coffee beans pressed into service.
Mom tends stove and counter, sautéing down a bed of greens and beans, carrots and onions, all in the skillet. She then makes little wells in the nest of veg, cracking turkey eggs into them to poach. The overwhelming sense of savory fills the kitchen and my eager nostrils as I change shoes, deposit the bag, wash hands.
Other mornings it’s the sweet cinnamon and butter smell of my favorite (German apple pancakes) or if there’s been fishing at Steve’s family cabin, it’s fresh walleye or crappie with cornmeal pancakes. A good solid breakfast anchors our late mornings — sitting down together to finally eat once all the animals have been fed first. I can’t imagine going without breakfast. It’s such a sustaining part of the day’s rite of passage.
And there’s so many wonderful things from the farm to have for breakfast! Fresh eggs, eager zucchinis, Kara’s homemade ancient grain muffins or bread for toast, creamy milk, ripe blueberries the size of a quarter, maple syrup thick and amber… Makes me hungry just writing about it!
What do you have to write about this week? In a journal or a letter? If you enjoy writing, you’re welcome to join us on Thursday evenings (through the end of August) for the Spoken Word event or on second Sundays for Writer’s Circle. Take time to capture and celebrate the moments, ease into them, reflect. When you can find what poet Natalie Goldberg calls “the miraculous in the mundane,” you will never run out of things to write about! See you down on the farm sometime.
Laura Berlage is a co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms, LLC and Farmstead Creamery & Café. 715-462-3453 www.northstarhomestead.com