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A Very Long Table

By Audrey Carter, Phase I Fellow

Coming atcha live from week nine! It has been a wild, wonderful, and exhausting few days. It’s all been a blur of activity: recording the Local Food Bite segment at the radio station, teaching at the local elementary school’s summer garden program, helping out at the Augusta Health Farm open house, hosting a dinner party for our closest neighbors, and sweating. Lots of sweating.

As a firm believer in the art of Saturday-ing (and as my book had just gotten quite juicy), I was feeling overwhelmed at the impending line up of commitments and the hustle and bustle of it all after a week in the garden. To my welcome surprise, these last few days, and the events that have taken place in them, have been some of my favorite as a Phase I Fellow. The Open House was pleasant and rewarding, all went smoothly at the school garden, and recording at the radio station took all of ten minutes. But what brought me the most joy and has re-energized me for the weeks to come was the dinner party we hosted for nearby neighbors on the mountain on Monday night.

A large component of the AMI experience is communal. The eight of us have become accustomed to eating together, living together, traveling together, learning together, and working together. To paint a picture: Yesterday, when I couldn’t remember how many miles were on my car, Bonnie chimed in to let me know. So we’ve all gotten used to this communal atmosphere and can even, at times, become numb to how unique aspects of it are. Before coming to AMI, I ate lunch while speed-walking from task to task at work. Now, I eat both lunch and dinner every day at a long table, covered in flowers, surrounded by people. Yet, when we moved five of these tables to the porch, decorated them with flowers for the impending thirty visitors, it was all very new and all very exciting.

To me, there is something very beautiful about an especially long table, covered in flowers, surrounded by people.

The day of preparations was chaotic - planning and guessing and sweating and chopping and stirring and baking and peeling and steaming. Nina Simone rang loud while our hands turned red with beet juice and stinky with garlic. The process was stimulating and fun, but what made it all so invigorating was the knowledge that our efforts would be what later allowed for that very long table, covered in flowers, to become surrounded by people.

So much about this season is rich and beautiful. The earth is finally green, flowers have popped up all over the mountain, and the most delicious snap peas have made themselves available, hanging on vines that curl up and around with the leaves almost waving and whispering “Gaaaarden snaaaaaacks!”

In this midst of this bounty, I am struck by the word itself. According to good old Marriam-Webster, bounty is something that is given generously. To be able to commune with people is a gift no matter what. To be able to commune with people whist eating food that was taken from the dirt in the garden that is 0.3 miles away from the plate on which it sits is bountiful, indeed.

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