Blurry Days

Have you noticed how at the beginning of a summer or school year, each moment seems so defined and precise, but as time goes on things just start to blur together? That’s how I feel about this summer, but I’m glad to say it’s the happy kind of blur; the kind that is full of laughter and surprising realizations.

It finally rained in Gettysburg last week, and as is typical it didn’t just rain, it POURED. The thunderstorms came on Wednesday evening, filling the sky with black and threatening cracks of electricity. We welcomed the frenzied gusts of wind that found their way into the kitchen and cooled our sweaty brows. The storm seemed to scare away our volunteers that day – only 1 out of 3 showed up. Everything seemed frightened that evening – dogs barked in time with the blaring car alarm going off down the street. The trees were fitful with their constant tossing and twisting, and the streets were empty. After all this blustering, the storm still missed us, leaving behind a faint drizzle on the pavement. But it hit the next day, and this week the plants in the garden have sprouted about 3 inches! Everything is so lush and green. Once the “drought” broke, the rain refused to stop. The windows of our tiny house and the windshield of my car were blurred with rain all weekend.

But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Back to last week! On Tuesday evening, the Healthy Options program (though SCAPP) had their next Photovoices session. The participants shared pictures of food in their lives, and we all enjoyed the cheese quesadillas and zucchini cake. I listened hard and took notes, trying to piece together the parts in Spanish before Audrey translated for the group. I imagine that I might be getting better, but my brain still freezes whenever I try to speak Spanish in front of a group. Luckily, I was able to communicate somewhat coherently on Sunday during the cooking class… but I’m getting ahead of myself again.

Wednesday day was storm day, and we also began the move to the new kitchen. We piled canned food and dishes into the little plastic wagon and dragged it down the street in the blustery wind. I always feel like a kid when I pull that thing – it rattles loudly over every pebble and tries to run away from me down the hills.

Thursday was my longest Heston day in a while. Melanie and I went to a Healthy Options meeting at 9am, and we didn’t finish work that night until almost 9. We moved everything else into the new kitchen and spent almost an hour playing Tetris in the freezers (sooo much zucchini!!). We had our second gardening class at Farm House, and although only two families came, I think it was a success. The low attendance rate actually helped encourage some one-on-one conversations and bonding over plants and gardening. It began to drizzle again towards the end of the meeting, but we were all safe and dry under the sweeping branches of an old tree (an oak? I should know these things…). I left the gardening class with a potted basil plant in each hand and a smile on my face. The light rain felt nice on my arms, and I was happy to chat with one of the other student volunteers as we ambled down Carlisle Street. Twenty minutes later I was startled from my relaxing shower by the screams of my fellow Hestons as they piled into the house out of the storm that had finally hit. They trailed upstairs to pound on the bathroom door for towels, leaving a trail of rainwater in their path. Apparently, they nearly lost a shoe and a person (Yaou) in the storm. They ran all the way back, almost blind from the rain. Yup, we’re in Gettysburg alright.

In contrast, Friday was the laziest Heston day I’ve had in a while. The rain did something to all of us – if we had been able, I think we would have curled up inside all day like the cat. We had finished moving into the kitchen ahead of schedule, the garden was soaked, the Senior Center was closed, and we had finally finished processing the zucchini and peaches. Melanie and I spent much of the morning doing promotional “stuff” on the CKPGC Facebook page (check it out!!). Then we visited out new kitchen and made plans for the cooking class scheduled for Sunday.

The Saturday farmer’s market yielded a wagon full of fresh produce and baked goods, as usual. Each Saturday, we’ve been collecting close to 90 lbs of food from the market! The people there are so wonderful.

Okay, so back to the Sunday cooking class. A LOT of people showed up! Several families were there with their children, so the kitchen was packed. Yaou and Maura were nice enough to keep the kids entertained outside, and we started off the class with a lesson on how to make peach cobbler. It wasn’t until we were nearly done with all the mixing and measuring that I went to pre-heat the oven and found that it wouldn’t turn on. Disaster!! Remember that we had just moved in on Friday, and for some reason neither of us thought to make sure the new electric stove even worked… duh. We rushed the cobbler to the old kitchen while Kim and Audrey scrambled to find portable electric stoves from their homes. We ran into another issue – Audrey’s electric stove would not start, as it required a special type of pot to work (go figure). We were just preparing to move the whole operation back to the old kitchen when one of the participants emerged with a huge, triumphant smile on his face. A cheer went up as we all realized that the stove was working. Something had tripped and he found the breaker and fixed it! Class got back on schedule, and we all worked together to make veggie chili, humus, kale chips, and the cobbler. It was a great success, and I was happy to see that all of the food was eaten. I hope that all of the participants will benefit from the lesson and learn to incorporate even more fresh produce into their diets (Every dish we made that day was chock-full of fresh produce!).

I actually started this blog at the beginning of the week and am just getting around to finishing it and posting. This week was another blur, with a million exciting and challenging things pack into it. It has been raining regularly, so we haven’t had to water the garden much. I played checkers with Myrtle on Thursday – it was a pretty big deal, seeing as she hasn’t played in a couple decades and has only ever made puzzles during our morning visit. Changes are rare in the Gettysburg Senior Center. Last night, they were slightly thrown off by the jambalaya we served for dinner – they mostly eat bland foods, so the dish was pretty spicy for them. Two of our volunteers from the kitchen attended, and one provided some entertainment by playing piano.

I think I should stop writing now because this is getting pretty long-winded. The last thing I want to mention happened on Monday, and it made me feel wonderful. I was delivering the LIU bags on Middle Street with a volunteer, and we had just dropped off the two filled-to-bursting bags for the Martinez family. Two small boys with wide eyes came to the door for the bags. They edged forward timidly, struggling to lift the sacks of food. Their father emerged with a smile and a bag from the previous week, and we said adios. We were just turning to leave when one of the boys found the fresh watermelon at the top of their bag. I could imagine what his face must have looked like by how happy his voice sounded when he shouted “watermelon!” Hearing that much joy in one word, from the mouth of a child, made my day. Hell, it made my week. It’s probably the part that stood out the most, one of those defined moments. No matter how blurry the days are, I’ll be happy if I can just have those few moments of clarity.

Chandra

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