Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Hallowbirthdayween

I have a friend whose birthday is on Halloween. I'm not sure if it's a bonus or a deficit to share your birthday with an established holiday. There might be some extra expectations that just can't be met. F'rinstance, Ken has no choice but to share his birthday with St. Patrick's Day and a less Irish persona you never could meet. Nonetheless, much to his disinterest if not distaste, leprechauns and four-leaf-clovers keep showing up in his birthday cards; green beer jokes keep rearing their ugly heads.

But for Tom, the Halloween birthday kind of works. He's a jack o'lantern smiley kind of guy who doesn't seem to mind sharing his limelight with one of America's more whimsical holidays. All the extra candy around doesn't hurt for a little extra birthday bonus.

So what's Tom doing in the Frog Log? Well, after retiring from an intense career in commercial construction, Tom decided to slow down and dedicate a good portion of many days to the activities of Frog Holler Farm. From good ol' fashioned grunt work to sharing construction skills, Tom has woven himself into the fabric of the farm.

But Tom is also my reader, possibly my only reader. And writers need readers. Sure, not all words must be read. Journals, memos, and instructions for how to operate your cell phone -- they don't need to be read! I once saw a link titled, "How to make sure your mom isn't the only one reading your blog". Well, I know my mom doesn't read my blog! But Tom does, and he reads thoughtfully and critically, but not harshly. And he notices (and tells me) when I'm not writing. And all that helps me to write, which is what I want to do.

Perhaps Tom is a reader because he is also a writer. He writes witty, descriptive, and touching snapshots into the universality of everyday occurrences in everyday life. (See Frog Log, December 20, 2006). And I like to read what he writes. So come on, Tom, where's the stuff?

Because I know Tom is reading this. So here's something else for him to read: Happy Birthday Tom! Hope you had a great day with many more treats to come, and no tricks! (Except this Frog Log :-)

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Twice a season, once very early in the Spring, and again very late in the Fall. Never easy or convenient, we pay penance to circumvent Mother Nature. In the garden we proceed solemnly down the rows, two by two, diaphanous white fabric billowing between our outstretched hands. A slow and deliberate cadence assures the fabric will unroll evenly, and placement of the cocoon-like material must be careful and precise; there is no gain in hurrying at this critical moment. As the filmy blankets waft down onto each leafy row, a rhythmic scraping sound follows: shovel in dirt, dirt tossed onto edge of fabric. And again. And again. Down the rows and back again, sealing cloth to earth.

Row by row, we proceed on faith -- doing the most we can to protect the crops, accepting that it may not be enough.

October 28, 2007 -- hard freeze tonight.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Food for thought

On Sept.26, our good friend and Farmer's Market neighbor, got busted. John Savanna, of Mill Pond Bakery,was told by a State of Michigan health inspector to take all of his unwrapped bread off of the market stall,and to destroy it by squirting dish soap all over it. The story made the front page of the Ann Arbor News and was followed up by Letters to the Editor from incensed Ann Arbor consumers that were 100 per cent in support of John. The News said that was a rarity; the follow-up letters are always mixed.

So the story has received a lot of attention and I won't go into it any further. Read the Frog Log from May 25 for more about John's journey toward righteous bread-baking.

Or better yet, eat some of John's bread. Yes, he is still selling bread at the market, but it all has to be bagged and he can only supply half of what he used to bake, as he needs so much time to bag the bread.

So get a hunk of that bread. And a hunk it is. It's heavy, hearty and rich brown. We are fortunate to trade veggies for bread, and so I bit into a hunk the other night after market. And I had to stop. And chew. And as I chewed I looked. What did I see?

I saw a dense interweaving of softened grains, laced with cherries and walnuts. I saw a solid, deeper brown crust protecting the moist inner dough. I saw the imprint of hard-working hands, rolling and shaping the dough in a centuries-long tradition of creating the Staff of Life. I saw focused eyes peering into a rotating oven, able to determine when the bread had risen to completion. I saw an artisan, sharing his skill and his soul, in the simple act of creating righteous food. I saw a fair and honest businessman handing that loaf to an appreciative customer.

And I also saw someone who has been a vital part of the local food supply and economy having his livelihood jeopardized by a rather arbitrary application of insensitive and impractical "rules." And that's something to chew on.

Holler Fest 2016
August 26-28