Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Absence Of Work

Head packed as with wadded cotton, infection's heat flushing through extremities, sore back from work not yet done, I headed out, to vote, and having gone that far, I headed farther out, to school. It was the best thing I could do to overcome what hadn't been done. Today, through verses of excuses four stanza long, my students worked me hard, and I let them, as I hustled, to the left, then doubling back, trying it this way, now that. The absence of work is the curse of the super storm. The stress of none in the face of so much possible cast illness upon me. So I recuperate through work, while snows fall on Central Park, and all those without roofs, and doors shiver in the mad gyrations of November weather.


Friday, October 26, the Peconic Land Trust and I came to agreement on the terms of our relationship. On that same day the insurance brokerage informed me that they were unable to bind any policies until at least two days after the storm -the insurers were nervous. And right. The rental agreement is dependent on my ability to show a certificate, and so once again everything was delayed. On Sunday, October 28, I hustled out to Amagansett in the wee hours.

The Trust had offered new land, land that had not seen the neighboring farm's equipment, the neighboring farm which, two years prior, had contracted the deadliest of garlic pests, Ditylenchus dipsaci, from bad seed. Garlic Bloat Nematode is transported in soil, via tractor or boot, and I did not want to be bound to three years of restoration should those tractors and boots deliver the pest. I pushed for a single year lease, and on this we finally agreed.

New land required a soil test, and the sooner the better, for soil work so late in the season is usually for naught, but I couldn't help myself, I needed to do something. While scoping out the new plot, this season's farmer, a young man, seemed to conceal his thoughts about the field. He's going to try his hand in Vermont, wants his own soil to keep. He said this field is nutrient poor. Not encouraged, but tired, and drained of options, I left his experience there with him, choosing instead to utilize the coming hurricane rain, to make the most of my plot.

Little in the way of a commercial agricultural infrastructure remains on Long Island. Something as simple as finding agricultural lime, aglime, is nearly impossible. I found myself at an almost ironically named Agway, in Bridgehampton, pestering lazy counter people about their stock of lime. I bought 120 pounds of their high priced pelletized, fast-acting, no magnesium lime because something was better than nothing at this point. Over choppy ground, tilled but not disced, I sweated yanking a dime store spreader to and fro across this quarter acre. The rains had still not come, the wind began to whip, and at least something had been done.

The storm wreaked havoc over hundreds of nautical miles and the southern prong of Long Island's fork was not spared. I have yet to see the damage, although the mind's eye fixes on that stretch where the eagerly romantic Georgica Pond licks Old Montauk Highway. I dared not venture out the one hundred miles, uneasy about getting in the way, an unending search for gasoline, and the Trust's admonition that without lease, no work shall be done. The brokerage provided that Monday, a week after our storm, at the earliest, could insurance be bound. The power out, I could not communicate this to the Trust, but mailed the signed lease to them anyway, on Wednesday, Halloween. That week of storm's imposition, of domestic solitude, gave negative solace to my long spinning wheels.

On Friday, the second, I received a mobile email from the Trust. They were just now getting power and restoring their sense of order. The young farmer I met before the storm is required to restore his plot, and further, he must prepare the field for me. He didn't seem to mind doing the extra work now that his season was at a close. He said he would have the discing done on Friday and the smoothing done by Sunday. Incredible, I thought. Movement! I hastened to be there this past Monday, November five, and told him as much.

It was on Sunday, the fourth, that I rose with the sore in my throat. Another week of delay for all that work to be done, that work which formerly spread comfortably across the weekends of autumn, now crammed into the short days of November. Today, finally, although not without quandary, I mailed the contracts and money for binding my insurance. I await the certificate to present to the Trust, and with caution I say that this Saturday, November ten, the long road to renting farmland will near its end.

1 comment:

If I do not respond to your comment right away, it is only because I am busy pulling out buckthorn, creeping charlie, and garlic mustard...