Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

383 Pages ·2010·2.28 MB ·English

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

A


N I M A L ,


V


E G E T A B L E ,


M


I R A C L E


A Year of Food Life


B A R B A R A


K I N G S O LV E R


with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver


origina l draw ings by richard a. houser In memory of Jo Ellen CONTENTS


/



1. Called Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1


2. Waiting for Asparagus: Late March . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


3. Springing Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43


4. Stalking the Vegetannual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63


5. Molly Mooching: April . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70


6. The Birds and the Bees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86


7. Gratitude: May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100


8. Growing Trust: Mid-J une . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111


9. Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Late June . . . . . . . 124


10. Eating Neighborly: Late June . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148


11. Slow Food Nations: Late June . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154


12. Zucchini Larceny: July . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173


13. Life in a Red State: August . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196


14. You Can’t Run Away on Harvest Day: September . . . . . . . . 219


15. Where Fish Wear Crowns: September . . . . . . . . . . . . . 242


16. Smashing Pumpkins: October . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259


17. Celebration Days: November–December . . . . . . . . . . . 277


18. What Do You Eat in January? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296


19. Hungry Month: February–March . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315


20. Time Begins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 334


Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 353


References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 355


Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 358


Sidebar Resources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 364 About the Authors


Other Books by Barbara Kingsolver


Credits


Cover


Copyright


About the Publisher October


September


August


July


June


May


“Picture a single imaginary plant,


bearing throughout one season all the


different vegetables we harvest . . .


we’ll call it a vegetannual.” 1 • CALLED HOME


This story about good food begins in a quick-s top convenience market. It


was our family’s last day in Arizona, where I’d lived half my life and raised


two kids for the whole of theirs. Now we were moving away forever, tak-


ing our nostalgic inventory of the things we would never see again: the


bush where the roadrunner built a nest and fed lizards to her weird-


looking babies; the tree Camille crashed into learning to ride a bike; the


exact spot where Lily touched a dead snake. Our driveway was just the


first tributary on a memory river sweeping us out.


One person’s picture postcard is someone else’s normal. This was the


landscape whose every face we knew: giant saguaro cacti, coyotes, moun-


tains, the wicked sun reflecting off bare gravel. We were leaving it now in


one of its uglier moments, which made good-b ye easier, but also seemed


like a cheap shot—like ending a romance right when your partner has


really bad bed hair. The desert that day looked like a nasty case of prickly


heat caught in a long, naked wince.


This was the end of May. Our rainfall since Thanksgiving had mea-


sured less than one inch. The cacti, denizens of deprivation, looked ready


to pull up roots and hitch a ride out if they could. The prickly pears waved


good-bye with puckered, grayish pads. The tall, dehydrated saguaros


stood around all teetery and sucked- in like very prickly supermodels.


Even in the best of times desert creatures live on the edge of survival, get-


ting by mostly on vapor and their own life savings. Now, as the southern 2 animal, vegetable, miracle


tier of U.S. states came into a third consecutive year of drought, people


elsewhere debated how seriously they should take global warming. We


were staring it in the face.


Away went our little family, like rats leaping off the burning ship. It


hurt to think about everything at once: our friends, our desert, old home,


new home. We felt giddy and tragic as we pulled up at a little gas-a nd-go


market on the outside edge of Tucson. Before we set off to seek our for-


tunes we had to gas up, of course, and buy snacks for the road. We did


have a cooler in the back seat packed with respectable lunch fare. But we


had more than two thousand miles to go. Before we crossed a few state


lines we’d need to give our car a salt treatment and indulge in some things


that go crunch.


This was the trip of our lives. We were ending our existence outside


the city limits of Tucson, Arizona, to begin a rural one in southern Appala-


chia. We’d sold our house and stuffed the car with the most crucial things:


birth certifi cates, books- on-tape, and a dog on drugs. (Just for the trip, I


swear.) All other stuff would come in the moving van. For better or worse,


we would soon be living on a farm.


For twenty years Steven had owned a piece of land in the southern Ap-


palachians with a farmhouse, barn, orchards and fi elds, and a tax zoning


known as “farm use.” He was living there when I met him, teaching col-


lege and fixing up his old house one salvaged window at a time. I’d come


as a visiting writer, recently divorced, with something of a fi xer- upper life.


We proceeded to wreck our agendas in the predictable fashion by falling


in love. My young daughter and I were attached to our community in Tuc-


son; Steven was just as attached to his own green pastures and the bird-


song chorus of deciduous eastern woodlands. My father- in-law to be,


upon hearing the exciting news about us, asked Steven, “Couldn’t you


find one closer?”


Apparently not. We held on to the farm by renting the farmhouse to


another family, and maintained marital happiness by migrating like birds:


for the school year we lived in Tucson, but every summer headed back to


our rich foraging grounds, the farm. For three months a year we lived in a


tiny, extremely crooked log cabin in the woods behind the farmhouse, lis-


tening to wood thrushes, growing our own food. The girls (for another


A


N I M A L ,


V


E G E T A B L E ,


M


I R A C L E


A Year of Food Life


B A R B A R A


K I N G S O LV E R


with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver


origina l draw ings by richard a. houser In memory of Jo Ellen CONTENTS


/



1. Called Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1


2. Waiting for Asparagus: Late March . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


3. Springing Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43


4. Stalking the Vegetannual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63


5. Molly Mooching: April . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70


6. The Birds and the Bees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86


7. Gratitude: May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100


8. Growing Trust: Mid-J une . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111


9. Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Late June . . . . . . . 124


10. Eating Neighborly: Late June . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148


11. Slow Food Nations: Late June . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154


12. Zucchini Larceny: July . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173


13. Life in a Red State: August . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196


14. You Can’t Run Away on Harvest Day: September . . . . . . . . 219


15. Where Fish Wear Crowns: September . . . . . . . . . . . . . 242


16. Smashing Pumpkins: October . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259


17. Celebration Days: November–December . . . . . . . . . . . 277


18. What Do You Eat in January? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296


19. Hungry Month: February–March . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315


20. Time Begins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 334


Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 353


References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 355


Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 358


Sidebar Resources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 364 About the Authors


Other Books by Barbara Kingsolver


Credits


Cover


Copyright


About the Publisher October


September


August


July


June


May


“Picture a single imaginary plant,


bearing throughout one season all the


different vegetables we harvest . . .


we’ll call it a vegetannual.” 1 • CALLED HOME


This story about good food begins in a quick-s top convenience market. It


was our family’s last day in Arizona, where I’d lived half my life and raised


two kids for the whole of theirs. Now we were moving away forever, tak-


ing our nostalgic inventory of the things we would never see again: the


bush where the roadrunner built a nest and fed lizards to her weird-


looking babies; the tree Camille crashed into learning to ride a bike; the


exact spot where Lily touched a dead snake. Our driveway was just the


first tributary on a memory river sweeping us out.


One person’s picture postcard is someone else’s normal. This was the


landscape whose every face we knew: giant saguaro cacti, coyotes, moun-


tains, the wicked sun reflecting off bare gravel. We were leaving it now in


one of its uglier moments, which made good-b ye easier, but also seemed


like a cheap shot—like ending a romance right when your partner has


really bad bed hair. The desert that day looked like a nasty case of prickly


heat caught in a long, naked wince.


This was the end of May. Our rainfall since Thanksgiving had mea-


sured less than one inch. The cacti, denizens of deprivation, looked ready


to pull up roots and hitch a ride out if they could. The prickly pears waved


good-bye with puckered, grayish pads. The tall, dehydrated saguaros


stood around all teetery and sucked- in like very prickly supermodels.


Even in the best of times desert creatures live on the edge of survival, get-


ting by mostly on vapor and their own life savings. Now, as the southern 2 animal, vegetable, miracle


tier of U.S. states came into a third consecutive year of drought, people


elsewhere debated how seriously they should take global warming. We


were staring it in the face.


Away went our little family, like rats leaping off the burning ship. It


hurt to think about everything at once: our friends, our desert, old home,


new home. We felt giddy and tragic as we pulled up at a little gas-a nd-go


market on the outside edge of Tucson. Before we set off to seek our for-


tunes we had to gas up, of course, and buy snacks for the road. We did


have a cooler in the back seat packed with respectable lunch fare. But we


had more than two thousand miles to go. Before we crossed a few state


lines we’d need to give our car a salt treatment and indulge in some things


that go crunch.


This was the trip of our lives. We were ending our existence outside


the city limits of Tucson, Arizona, to begin a rural one in southern Appala-


chia. We’d sold our house and stuffed the car with the most crucial things:


birth certifi cates, books- on-tape, and a dog on drugs. (Just for the trip, I


swear.) All other stuff would come in the moving van. For better or worse,


we would soon be living on a farm.


For twenty years Steven had owned a piece of land in the southern Ap-


palachians with a farmhouse, barn, orchards and fi elds, and a tax zoning


known as “farm use.” He was living there when I met him, teaching col-


lege and fixing up his old house one salvaged window at a time. I’d come


as a visiting writer, recently divorced, with something of a fi xer- upper life.


We proceeded to wreck our agendas in the predictable fashion by falling


in love. My young daughter and I were attached to our community in Tuc-


son; Steven was just as attached to his own green pastures and the bird-


song chorus of deciduous eastern woodlands. My father- in-law to be,


upon hearing the exciting news about us, asked Steven, “Couldn’t you


find one closer?”


Apparently not. We held on to the farm by renting the farmhouse to


another family, and maintained marital happiness by migrating like birds:


for the school year we lived in Tucson, but every summer headed back to


our rich foraging grounds, the farm. For three months a year we lived in a


tiny, extremely crooked log cabin in the woods behind the farmhouse, lis-


tening to wood thrushes, growing our own food. The girls (for another


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