Sunday, August 10, 2008

Utah!? No. Itah!!





Liz heard these words this morning. They were true. A bison had wandered over 20 miles from its pasture. Later, the mayor came by the farm wondering if we'd seen him. We've been here a week without a boring day; it proves one of the many phrases boasting the originality of Boulder, Utah: "something interesting every day." It is true. Sometimes you wake up to this:

Or sometimes you come home and find this happening (it might not be what it looks like...):

or this:

going on and you just have to wonder why it's not like this everywhere.

We've been still for a whole week; driven fewer than 100 miles, spent less than $100, which is really changing the stats on our trip, though not impeding us mentally from hitting the coast. The problem is that there's so much to hit before that.

I had my first day in a working kitchen today. I recall a story my grandpa told me (and this may not be entirely factual due to my memory) about being a smartass in his early and brief military career: in the morning inspection lineup, his attire, or perhaps his entire self, wasn't entirely ship-shape. When the inspector came by the admonishment given was, "Hop to it, Olsson!" And so my Grandpa hopped, and was given some large number of hours on KP, Kitchen Patrol, peeling potatoes.

Well, my first day in the kitchen was spent peeling carrots. 70 pounds of Holmesian (gigantic) carrots that I then sliced on the diagonal. Now, I'm not complaining; I asked to work in the kitchen and was given full warning of what I'd be doing, with the option of renegging should I find the task too demeaning for my haughty disposition. It was mostly fun; not fun in the yay-it's-playtime way, but fun in the repetitive-task-that-lets-out-your-obsessive-side way. I skinned those roots good, then sliced them to the rhythm of many rap songs that were blaring in the kitchen, keeping them within one millimeter of the pinky's width I was instructed to cut; the fingers of my right hand curled under, nails guiding the orange shaft as my left hand guided the blade forwards, downwards, then backwards to finish the motion. After completing a carrot I set the high-carbon stainless steel blade aside (good kitchens stock good knives), tossed the ends into a waiting compost bucket, and scooped the ovane discs into an empty commercial-sized sour cream tub lined with a half-gallon bag. I filled a dozen bags. My hands and fingernails are stained orange. Imagine what you would do with six gallons of beautifully sliced carrots.

So I lied. Liz and I both worked in the restaurant last night to help prepare for a wedding. We had been at the farm in the morning continuing our task of weeding, mulching with compost, and now planting comfrey, yarrow, and mint around the 25 or so young fruit trees that line the driveway and irrigation pond. This sounds great, right? It is in one's imagination, but when you get down there and find out that it is not worms that do the dirt-digestion but ants, your mind will change fast. These little so-and-sos have vast and myriad underground fortresses throughout the entire state, and their Capitol Hill and military base is on the farm. They are responsible for some great deeds such as, as mentioned before, creating dirt out of . . . well, other dirt . . . and making sure the hundreds of sunflowers scattered about don't get any other forms of life on them. If you so much as brush up against a sunflower leaf you are sure to acquire one or two quarter-inch black ants running down your collar to check your immigrant status. If you did not pass the citizenship test, ZAP!, you get a little pinpricky bite. Occasionally and undoubtedly you will step onto one of their tannish/pinkish mounds or walk near a sunflower and will instantly have a sandal and leg covered in ants, which is uncomfortable to the point of jumping up and down in a frenzy, even when they don't bite. This, so far, is the only drawback to living here.

As I was saying, Liz and I worked in the restaurant last night preparing for the wedding, observing how different people deal with stress, and learning how to stay out of the way of a stressed out, sleep deprived, hungover chef wielding a hot pan and wearing headphones. The night before last there was a ten-hour power outage in the entire vicinity due to the brigade of thunderheads that have been coming our way everyday for the past three days, unbuckling their steamy undergarments, and quenching the thirsty mosquito eggs that have been waiting for this, the monsoon season, to begin. The power outage is why the chef and several other cooks were hung over; I guess that modern conveniences, when nonfunctional, lead to heavy drinking at three a.m.

I should put a note here about alcohol in Utah! (apparently you can't spell Utah! without an exclamation point, it's just that great). This vast, multichromatic, Mormon-infested (no offense, unless you're a fundy...) land has a law that stipulates that beer brewed in this state (Utah!) cannot contain more than 3.2% alcohol by *weight.* This works out to about 4%, which is barely enough to be antiseptic, not to mention flavorful. So most people drink whisky, which can be found easily enough at any state-run liquor store (the only place you can find out-of-state beer, too). I think this is silly. That's my note about alcohol. Here are some more pictures:

1 comment:

Heather said...

I am sure it is difficult to recall all the varying phobias and fears and downfalls of your dear friends, after all, I certainly couldn't name many of yours - however, when reading this post - specifically the part involving the ants - I nearly jumped up screaming and waving my arms doing a full body shake from being so perturbed. I hate ants. They are freaky. I feel like we've made some sort of connection now. You might not hate them but my very reason for finding them to be utterly horrible is due to experiences such as the one you all had. Ugh. Ants.