Notes from Windward: #66

New England and back again

Virgil describes his trip back east

      I recently went back to New Hampshire for a month. My reasons were to earn money enough to build a new computer for myself, second to see friends and family, and third to travel to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Associations Common Ground Fair. All of this meant a sudden reintegration with the "real world." This, along with the adjustment to the new time zone, and the drastically different climate left me in a bit of a daze for a while.

      I started working at my college's bookstore where I had worked previously as a general experienced hand during the "rush" season as the students return. Looking back the first week or two were still tinged by a rush or a general glow from my time at windward. I was in a good mood; I was excited to help people find their books, and eager to wish them a great semester when I was through. However the stress eventually broke that mood down. Within a week and a half the stress of having customers yell at me about the price or availability of their books or the fact that the credit card system was down for the day, and of working ten hours overtime and thus no time outside, along with cash flow issues began to eat at me.

      I was less eager to help customers or go out of my way to explain situations to them. I was quicker to become frustrated at the customers, which i strived not to show. And in general I was less happy during the day.

      To me this confirmed what I had believed when I had worked there previously. That despite the fact that I like the other employees, and I respect the company the job there turned me into a worse person. A disconnection from the outdoors and a disconnection from people, who didn't want something from me, made me quicker to anger and mentally run down. I believe that when I had worked there previously my biggest motivation became helping my fellow coworkers and doing tasks so that others would not have to.

      Before this led to a general decline in eating habits, a weariness which made me crash in front of our TV when I got home, and a pessimistic attitude. This time I tried to curb some of those trends by hanging out with friends when I could afford it, making sure I got out and at least took mini road trips when I could, and being conscious of what I ate.

      By the end although I knew I would miss my friends and the amazing New England fall (my favorite season) I was missing windward. I would check the web site and see how they were making progress on projects and think about how their slow and steady pace actually finished things while my fast pace at the bookstore would never seem done. I missed the Windward kitchen and the unique opportunity it gave me to truly develop my cooking skills with fewer restrictions as to equipment and cost (compared to the tight budget I was on at home) and amount produced. And lastly I missed nights watching movies together or sitting around the fire and enjoying ourselves.

      The one major ritual that offered me a bit of relaxation and enjoyment was going to the Common Ground Fair with our summer intern Jillian (who was back in school). When i was young my mother would take us to the fair pretty much every year, but as time went by it seemed less of a priority. When i was in college and rediscovered my interest in science in general, and environmental science in particular i rediscovered the fair. As i mentioned earlier the fair is held by the Maine Organic and Farmers Association, and this was their 30'th fair. The fair is a mish mash of classic rural county fair events and animal shows, vendors of organic and local products, amazing organic and local food, and social and political groups, demonstrations and lessons in farming, gardening, forestry, cooking and much more. The fair typically attracts up to 75,000 people over the course of the three days that the fair is run.

      To save money we volunteered in the fairs composting and recycling tent. This tent sorts the compostable, and recyclables from the fairs waste stream. It is a dirty and smelly job which I have rather enjoyed for the last few years. Volunteers who work a four hour shift during the fair get a free tee shirt, a meal ticket to the volunteer's kitchen, and the ability to sleep inside the fair ground in a giant common tent.

      This year I managed to come home from the fair only with good memories and memories of good meals cooked and five discount books.

Notes From Windward
      Index - Vol. 66