Fear can paralyze us.
Change can anger us.
Gratitude can transform us.
Since March 16 my life is forever changed. And for the better.
We must have hope for the better.
At first, I was in denial about the pandemic. Cases had not yet arrived in my small town. I did not wear a mask until a month ago. I live in the country, and believe the air is pure. I limit my trips to town. Already a compulsive hand washer (being in food production), I quickly located gloves to protect my flesh from harsh hand sanitizers while out in public.
Overnight, ordinary supplies vanished from store shelves. I began to order back-stock of my supplies. Shipments arrived from Florida. Supplements from Amazon arrived late or vanished altogether. Then restaurants closed. Schools closed. Death tolls began to mount. Life is no longer normal. A global shift. A mighty cull. A change out of control.
I must transition or suffer.
The Good Begins:
The first Saturday in April is the beginning of the farmer’s market season here in Central Virginia. This season is my 20th. I have been ready for change for over a decade and change happened in a BIG way. Our public market is closed until further notice. Fortunately, our management scrambled and bought a software geared to online farmer’s market shopping and drive-thru pick up. At first I resisted — many hoops to jump through. I had to open a PayPal account in order to receive payment. NO!
Hesitantly, I joined the other reserved agricultural/value added vendors, and by week three sales quadrupled! I am awash with new business. Customers never before seen. Apparently they want to Buy Fresh, Buy Local and with gusto!
This is how it works:
Monday through Thursday, the public can place/preorder items listed on the site. They also pre-pay so there is no cash exchanged. Vendors gather with their vehicles in a city park, socially distanced, and from 8-12 on Saturday, while customers drive through, trunks open, and vendors place their orders in those trunks. The revenue goes into a City PayPal account, and after they deduct their commission, the balance is transferred to vendor’s accounts. Easy peasy. Technology is fantastic when it works for the overall good. And this is GOOD.
The first week I nearly had a stroke when I checked my orders. Until then, I had become resigned to an inevitable annual loss. Instead, I never had this demand at the old market. I hit the ground running, delighted that organization is my forte, and at my ripe age, still functions. No more guessing nor speculating. No more exhausting chit chat with market customers. No more crack-of-dawn risings. I am over the moon!
Supply shopping became a game. Some hits, some outs. Helpful suppliers and new ones found online have performed flawlessly. I am grateful. So grateful. As a one-woman operation, every bit of help is appreciated! Angels appear in the most unexpected places.
With stay at home orders in place, families want/need an excuse to get out of the house. From the safety of their automobiles, this drive-through venue allows an outing (even dogs attend) for the entire family, albeit behind closed windows. Vendors are gloved and masked, and communication is nil, except for a wave or thumbs up. When all orders are picked up, vendors too are free to leave. Such a delightful change. Everyone wins.
Back at Swallowtail Cottage:
This spring has been one for the record books. On April 19, we had a killing frost of 29F. For zone 7A, this is harsh. The annual cash crop of hundreds of peony stems/buds were wilted to the ground. This has never happened in the nineteen years I have lived here. They seemed to recover once the sun rose, but most stems have remained in a stupor ever since.
The Oriental poppies are splendid this spring, yet the peonies are having a difficult time with these unusually cold nights.
Mother’s Day is the sweet spot for peony bouquet sales, yet I merely harvested 18 stems suitable for sale yesterday. Meanwhile, last night we had another hard freeze. Mother Nature is playing hard ball, for sure. This calls for resilience.
The jury is still out on whether the blueberries will ripen. They are in fruit now, but they have never experienced killing frost in their young lives…
O’Neal blueberries beginning to ripen
Meanwhile, the garden’s chives and parsley are beautiful now, and both make for a signature chive/artichoke/walnut pesto most popular with customers. Win.
Chives and their edible flowers first thing in the spring…yummy as pesto.
My pimento cheese, buttermilk biscuits, blueberry scones, and Key Lime Pies are finding new popularity. Every Friday, I spend hours in production. Win.
I currently produce/sell 200 of these per week!
Good food, comfort food, service to the community, and entrepreneurial fervor guide me. One customer stated, “You are getting us through this!” which nearly made me weep.
My kitchen during five hours of production every Friday.
The new normal.
Meanwhile the garden reminds me that life goes on despite horror and sorrow. The butterflies lay their eggs on the Pipe vine and parsley. The chrysalises that overwintered with me, are now emerging to fly blissfully away upon the breeze. Those at risk of freezing, I now raise indoors and release on milder days.
Pipevine caterpillars munch away blissfully indoors as cold temperatures prevail outside. These I collected as eggs.
The butterfly castle houses one newly emerged Pipevine swallowtail who spent the winter in the shed as a chrysalis. I released it as the temperature rose.
The Eastern Bluebird pair successfully raised their first brood of four nestlings who fledged on May 1.
Three nestling bluebirds day nine ~ Swallowtail Cottage.
The hummers returned from their tropical retreat on April 20th. The white-throated sparrows finally left this week to migrate farther north for summer. Chipping sparrows are here now, gleaning what they can find in the mulch and under the feeder. Titmice, Northern Cardinals, Red bellied woodpeckers, and the wee Black Cap chickadees also nest and thrive. Many other wild birds grace my gardens, creating a wonderland of endless entertainment, and beautiful views from my windows.
So close your eyes, click your heels and repeat…”there is no place like home.”
For now I am safe, well, productive, and grateful.
How are you faring? How has life shifted for you?
Copyright © 2020 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved