The few days leading up to our opening of HERE were some of the most remarkable days in recent memory. We were in this long stretch of mild weather, the temps low, with that hard frost in the morning but then later on the sky clear and crisp, the sea calm.
Sunday morning I went to visit Mike at Windfall Farm, his young son Kyle greets me at the gate with a wild flurry of ducks flying about his head and scattering at the arrival of my car . Kyle laughs amid the flapping of wings and squacking of duck and geese and exclaims that he just let them all out at the very moment I drove up! His eyes bright with delight and humor. I am there picking up the beets and the onions, and Mike invites me to help pick the red brussel sprouts . I am deeply moved as he patiently and tenderly shows Kyle, who is 6, (with small hands and agile fingers), how to reach into the plant and snap off the sprouts. Mike is kind and Kyle is eager and we walk down the rows of plants talking about the coming menus and what I can make with what he is growing this winter and do we think it will ever rain again.
Kyle takes me over to the Rabbit House and introduces me to the breeding rabbits by name, and explains why some of them remain and some of them don’t and he shows this impressive confidence about his knowledge of them and their attributes.
He even shares with me his favorite way to to prepare them.
This last September I inaugurated my wood oven and celebrated my birthday with a huge pizza and dance party at my home, and we set up our friend Justin in the doorway, where she nearly killed us all, DJ’ing unstoppable dance tunes, all the while Kyle, danced with every one of us and also mostly did his tremendous moves in front of Justin’s set up.
Kyle, master farmer, rabbit breeding expert and break out dancer.
The next day I went to Kelle and James’ farm and picked up the most beautiful greens, They where honestly poetic, as Kelle and James are in all that they do, breathe and their farm on the ridge, just a few miles from me, is a work of great love, devotion and a deep and true understanding of gardening on every level. I was overwhelmed by the aesthetic of it , every inch a visual feast.
The bags of purple mizuna, baby arugula, romanesco broccoli florets, rainbow chard, dino kale and baby collard greens, vibrant with life and love, beautifully bagged and boxed, waiting for me.
Kelle and James’ old dog Betsy, who is the same age as my Rosie, is very ill and their
grieving and worry was palpable that morning, and we all stood around in their parking area-loving Betsy up, talking about why she can no longer eat, chard, and wondering about the rain, that promised to come but has not.
Opening day, I cooked…and tried to anticipate what was ahead, we were not full which was actually a relief and as I left home to go to the bar, I got in my car and it
was dead…..so I had to run over to Mark’s house,(thank god he was home), with my swanky coat on, clean Chuck Taylors, and red lipstick… me, now ,running behind. Classic.
Heather’s childcare fell through and so her beautiful daughter Estelle
Joined us, she tucked away in the wait station with her ipad and her Rubik’s cube, but she mostly spent the evening with Ren and I in the kitchen. She was lovely and mindful and when I would forget something she noticed.
Ren is the son of my dear friend Aimee, who is also serving there, and I was at Ren's birth…His Blessing Way was here at my home, and his mother and I have been friends and co-workers for 25 years.
Ren was instantly perfect in the kitchen and he made my experience more beautiful than I could have ever hoped for. I am as mad for him now as I was the day he was born, when Aimee fed on the wild blackberry crisp, I brought to her right after birthing him.
The women serving for me have been with me since 1994, Amanda, Aimee and Heather, and we are more than family. We are old friends, confidants, we know nearly everything about one another,we have been through thick and thin together, their children grew up in my restaurants, they and their mothers are part of me and I am part of them. Here we all are again, 18 years later, back at it.
Tonight as I write this it is raining.