On Saturday night I attended what I consider the not-to-miss event of the year. This prime social occasion is not a gala ball or elegant dinner; it is the Harvest Party at Rare Earth Farm, one of my CSAs. Every year we take a trip to the country to celebrate another successful season.
Autumn this year has been amazing: warm, sunny and colorful—and the weather Saturday did not disappoint. Having been a member for 16 years, I can testify that the event can be frigid. Your breath smokes, people clutch cups of hot cider for warmth, and they inch close enough to the after-dark bonfire to almost singe. But this year it was shirtsleeves.
The party starts with pumpkin carving and includes a display of the finished works. I usually put my husband in charge of the kids and take a stroll around the acreage to soak up the last warmth of the year while sunset casts the brittle cornstalks in orange. It seems to make peace with the old year, now rushing away.
For dinner there is a marvelous potluck, a fitting tribute to the year’s bounty, and for 2010, a couple of piñatas made their dessert debut (not to forget the, ahem, inevitable beet cake and cupcakes). I invariably overeat and fast for days in preparation. After dinner, the kids do a round of chicken feeding, and it is time for the bonfire.
The bonfire warms the soul while disposing of non-compostable waste. It is vibrant and bright with sparks so high they can rise above the barn top. One year, during a particularly spectacular fire, the sheriff popped in to make sure the farm wasn’t burning down. We offered him a cider.
This year everyone got a damaged delivery boxes to toss into the fire. For those not familiar with CSAs, the food delivery boxes are collapsed and returned for reuse, but there is an ongoing learning curve for new members who must adjust to doing this gently. “Here’s to all of you who ripped your boxes!” cried the owner, as everyone rushed the fire. It blazed to Enormous and we hurriedly backed further away.
As we approach the end of October, the season is winding down. At this point, there are just three deliveries until the end. My freezer is crowded and I must confess that I am growing weary of the constant kitchen innovations, but proud of my efforts. I can only imagine how the farm helpers feel.
My daughter calls regularly from Arizona to say she misses the seasons here. I’d have to say I understand.