(One of the) Best Afternoon(s) of My Life.
A small watermelon falls on path of the Montague Farm Zen House and bursts open to reveal black seeds in glistening intensely yellow flesh. Higgledy-piggledy, we are loading the little red truck with paper plates, chairs, chopping board, cymbals and bells, coolers filled with jars of coffee and pesto pasta, and box after box of vegetables all carefully bagged or wrapped in bundles courtesy of a generous organic farmer.
Through the rear view mirror, miraculously, the stuff is not flying off as we drive from Montague to the summer block party at neighboring Turner’s Falls. Our weekly meal, which typically occurs on our own farm, is taking a field trip.
Our people jauntily play an assortment of instruments to lead the party’s opening parade, as we assemble our offerings in the shade of a tree on the cordoned off main road and begin shouting over the hubbub “Free food! What would you like? Come and eat!”
That was at 1:30 pm. Somewhere along the way someone hands us a godsend bottle of cold water saying “Don’t get dehydrated!” Then suddenly it is 6:00 pm and we are loading the little truck with empty boxes and trash to head precariously back to Montague Farm where a large Symposium gathering sits talking about social action through microphones.
What happened in between is a blur of action. Faces… closed, curious, doubting, toothless, on bicycles, in wheel chairs, ulcerated, bejeweled, speaking not-English, babies and children.
“Would you like some pesto pasta or some rice and beans, cold coffee or tea? Have a slice of watermelon or some juice! Here is a piece of panettone cake!”
“Would you take home some of these vegetables to cook? Who do you know who would like some? Take it for them! Feel this beautiful squash in your hand – it’s yours! It’s free!”
“People give it to us — we give it to you. Join us noon to 3 o’clock every Saturday for free fun and food at Montague Farm. Come and serve, come and eat! See you there!”
“Thank you very much! You are so welcome!”
Yes it really is free! It is the best food on the block (I made it!) and it is totally free! Bring your friends to lunch! We will serve you all! Somehow the paper plates, the plastic forks, the food and cups just last the time. While scores of children create masks and puppets beside us, maybe two hundred people have enjoyed the food.
It’s a rush, a blast! It just feels so good to give it all away. Feels like we could give the clothes off our backs, our fingers and toes if it helped. To watch the doubting faces slowly relax and savor the taste, begin to return our smiles, then start to laugh because they make us so happy.
“This just… turns the world upside down!” said someone, iced coffee in hand. “I… I just don’t know what to think!”