Three or four times a week, we pick lettuce at 6 am. Barrels, knives and crew load in the trucks. Off we go! There's a job for everyone. You can be a "cutter:" slicing the heads of lettuce right at the base - too high and the head falls apart. Too low, and you've got roots hanging on, which aren't a favorite salad ingredient. The other job is "picker-upper:" carefully place 25 heads of lettuce into each barrel, packing and counting. If there's one thing we like at Brookfield it's a good system. When the whole crew knows a good system for a task, there's room for hearing yesterday's highlights, for noticing the killdeer eggs. There's brainspace for tender thoughts, jokes, and, of course, dreaming about breakfast.
When we started harvesting lettuce for our opening week, the heads were small. We carefully "cherry picked" the beds for heads as big as the palms of our hands. 25 filled only half a barrel. We could fit 40. What happened to 25, our muscle memory, and brainspace? Instead, we'd worry as we picked: will more of these lettuces grow big enough by next week? I'd look at the weather for signs of temperatures rising.
Fast forward - look at us now! This lettuce is gigantic. Yum. 25 of these fluffy heads mound over the lip of the barrel. We have another bed already just as big, waiting for us to eat our way through this one. Bigger than our smiling faces. Big as the sunhats we put on now that summer arrived. We're into finding things smaller than the lettuce. A ham? Yes. A frisbee? Yup. We've moved on - from lettuce hope to lettuce celebrate just in time - it's time to plant fall crops and weed the carrots. Things have changed.
Change is the other, quieter gift of routine. My grandparents ate oatmeal every single morning and they taught me that routines create space for other things to shift. I like a varied breakfast but I love 25 lettuce heads in a barrel. And when harvesting these first summer squash and crisp cucumbers, calculating how to have a littlefor everyone, the home-base sized lettuces remind us: "Now is now, not forever. This too will shift." And in a few weeks, let's wait and see, we could be rolling in the cukes and zukes. So, in celebration of now, get out your biggest bowls - lettuce eat salad!
(for Dan, Karen, Abbe, Rebecca, Sunny and Ellen)