The Dirty Life

Kristin Kimball

The Dirty Life

“The seeds arrived in February, a whole farm in a box. Of all the mysteries I'd encountered on the farm, this seemed the most profound. I could not imagine how several tons of food could come out of a box so small and light I could balance it in one hand. Mark and I had spent evenings poring over the seed catalogs that had arrived during the darkest week of winter, piling up next to the bed like farmer porn.”

This passage comes from a wonderful book Shawn and I read recently, called The Dirty Life. Subtitled On Farming, Food, and Love, it's written by Kristin Kimball, and tells the story of how she met and married a dynamic young farmer named Mark, swapping her life as a writer in New York City for the five hundred acres near Lake Champlain known as Essex Farm.

Kimball goes on:

“I decided the Johnny's catalog, with its four-color spreads of air-brushed produce, was aimed at farmers who are visually stimulated, while the scrappy Fedco catalog, just newsprint and line drawings but with gorgeous descriptions, was aimed at people like me, who got off on words. If it had been left up to me, we would have grown one of everything from the catalogs that year.”

Kristin and Mark were married on their farm, on an October day threatening rain. Here, she recalls their wedding day:

“When I think of it now, I can see that our wedding day was exactly like our marriage, and like our farm, both exquisite and untidy, sublime and untamed. What I knew even then, though, in the middle of the chaos, was that the love at its center was not just the small human love between Mark and me. It was an expression of a larger loving-kindness, and, when I remember it, I have the feeling of being held in the hands of our friends, family, community, and whatever mysterious force made the fields yield abundant food. It is the feeling of falling, and of being gently caught.”

She finishes her book this way:

“Unknown outpaces known like do outpaces done. These acres are a world. What answers has the ground offered? Only the notion that there are answers. Underlying soil is bedrock, and if you dig deep enough, you'll hit it. That's the closest I've come to surety, and it is enough for me.”

Be sure to read all about it.

Copyright 2012, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.