Year of Produce: February

lemon treeAt left is my new Meyer lemon tree that I purchased from Graceful Blades (no website) who lovingly grows fruit trees and will be at the next Hillsdale Farmers Market Sunday, March 20, weather permitting. A cheery gift to myself in these dark months.

I wonder if there’s an equivalent phrase like drunk dialing, as it relates to writing blog posts in a weird frame of mind. No, I’m not drunk. Just fried. And why am I posting then? Well, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, “Sometimes you have to go into a blog post, not with the content you want, but the content you have.”

And to quote a former boss, “Done is beautiful.”

This being my my second-to-last produce log for this yearlong project, I had visions of waxing culinarily about the secret joys of eating in winter and the anticipation of freshly cut asparagus around the corner. All lovely stuff. All stuff I have no energy for. This is instructive. I can write a rather long post about what’s top of mind—rush projects, little breathing room to collect oneself or allow for margins of error, the dissatisfaction of churning out work too quickly.

Writing about the nourishing and writing about the sapping both require effort. But each requires a different kind of effort. And to honor the former requires a shifting of gears, a collecting of oneself, allowing oneself to go deeper into a place that isn’t easily accessed when you’re working like a flurry of restless gnats. At a recent coastal writing retreat, one attendee said that she was telling her father how hard it was for her to relax when the opportunity to relax was there. He would always remind her that you can’t go from 60 to zero at the snap of your fingers.

We forget that sometimes. We optimize our hard drives—collecting and lining up all the used and unused volumes into neat groups—but we forget that our brains need that as well. Don’t doubt that there are those who assume you should be able to yo-yo back and forth without pausing, reflecting, stepping away once in a while. Ignore them. Besides, we’re on own worst enemies.

Whether it’s work or life, we have to build in wiggle room for our well-being. When we rush from project to project, meal to meal, place to place, not stopping long enough to consider what we’re doing, it leads to exhaustion, errors and irritability, to name a few.

It seems that nearly every client’s project is a rush. I call these design crises but with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Rush projects are so because of poor planning, and not because an opportunity presented itself that must be seized or all will be lost. Agreeing to these compressed timeframes compromises quality not to mention one’s sanity. But they are instructive in their own perverse way.

• They allow you to see what you’re capable of in a short amount of time.

• They are a good reminder of why projects shouldn’t be rushed.

All projects have hitches. They’re natural and expected. And when you leave only enough time for the actual work to be done (and barely that), you aren’t able to address the unexpected issues that arise. On one such project, the client was admirably cooperative and organized (barring the rush) and owned their part by helping it move along quickly. They did this by being clear, being flexible, making fast decisions, and being very appreciative. Despite a few normal snafus and the unpleasantness of having little time to thoughtfully consider and test ideas and options, it was enjoyable! And it was so because of the cooperation from the client. (Yes, I thanked them, a few times actually.)

What does this have to do with eating? Well, I guess you could say we all made lemons out of lemonade. That’s about as food-like as this post will get.

Despite the work involved in getting this produce log done, it’s important because it’s self directed, nourishing, creative and offers me a platform to talk about something I care about. But it’s easy to cast aside efforts that nourish us, allow us to feel satisfied and complete, or proud of our output. Favoring instead, the immediate.

The immediate is like eating a whole bag of chips. Good for you doesn’t have to take a long time. But how we run our lives and how we nourish ourselves has to take healthy priority. It isn’t a matter of choosing one thing over another. It’s about keeping things in balance.

And so, because I have to rush to a meeting, here’s February. Below, you can link to other months. In January, I explored root vegetables and chicories.

Image of fresh produce purchases for February

<< Go to January or go to March, the final chapter. >>

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