Quillisascut Farm and farmers are lucky to have courageous people to share our dream, to celebrate each step of the journey, and enjoy the seasons of our lives. Our friend Jen Vennes has been on this path with us for years, keeping us calm in times of anxiousness and hydrated when we are in need of a drink. Jen is a fabulous writer and has graciously offered to share her reflection on life with friends at Quillisascut.
Quillisascut Farm, the seasons of time together and the birth of pool boy….
(By Jen Vennes, was the President of the board at Quiilisascut Education Fund, misses her role a lot, but continues to think about the importances of the work and love of the farm. Currently, Jen is a writer at keepthecalm.wordpress.com, typically detailing the experiences of having some really rare and difficult cancer while parenting, living, healing, and maintaining a united front as a peaceful warrior.)
Being away from my family during this unique situation of which my life has stumbled upon, has me processing many levels of emotions, many friendships, words of love and warmth, amongst the difficulties presented. Along with this process, I have the blessings of some time to contemplate not just cancer and its effects, (bright side) now I have time to read! write! and catch up on life around me, which in the beginning didn’t feel exactly like living, but I have realized it is living. We can soak life into our soul without having to leave the room sometimes. My son taught me this over the past weekend. So, I have accepted that it is living to sometimes have to simply sit still and watch it unfold. And how much do we all say we wish we had time to experience our friends more, take a breath, read, love our kids and not race to the next endeavor or rushed dinner out. Anyway, I’m taking this setback of immobility, and catching up. Diverting the healing into the soul, not the next restaurant to try and gets dressed up for…eating soup in bed surrounded by love and stories is a welcome comfort. Each day, I learn. I probably already had that version of sautéed kale out at Quillisascut farm anyway, so who needs to get a reservation. So, my physicality in living is in short supply these days, but my observation of it is just as enticing to feel, realizing this has struck me in a way that has me wanting to add words about one of my favorite places and dearest friends. especially, when reading LoraLea’s amazing blog posts and experiences of her life at Quillisascut Farm. (If she will have me as a guest.)
It occurred to me that I had taken advantage of the fact that I know the farm, have spent so much time experiencing all kinds of days with Rick, LoraLea, my family, and friends and the pampered pets of pleasant valley. For years, we have been coming and going, winter, spring, summer, and fall. So admittedly, I gazed past some posts, simply knowing, I did that, I know what she is talking about…and then realized that there is no one way of expressing the kind of love which blooms each spring on the farm. So I began really reading, living the times again, the poses of Libby, and the farm. The Farm (dreamy music now).
Fall of course, always brings harvest time, pig butchering, abundance, and we never miss the visit, and of course we also have the anniversary of our marriage. This can/maybe and I’m sure will be a whole other post….but a short look: Karl and I were wed around the hearth outside of the schoolhouse on a sunny, freezing cold, late October afternoon at the farm. Rick welcomed all, LoraLea married us, we all cooked, we all laughed, toasted, danced in the kitchen, made a bounty of love and community while celebrating our one love. We had so much laughter and beauty together that week, so much so, that nobody had noticed the pies from the wedding day were past the point of eating, even for Libby, and kept on eating them. So, I guess now we are all preserved well, for years to come, by the apples that grow not far from where they were picked, gathered, baked and made into wedding pies. We had wedding cheese, cocktails, songs, chilled shoulders and warm hearts. We had love and each other. Autumn.
Then, comes our Thanksgiving, a tradition I adore and am not letting go of no matter what, no matter how difficult the cancer was this past year, i am not going to lie, it was difficult with a cracked hip, a hard wooden chair, not enough pain meds with me to quell the tears, and yet when I needed an uplift, the moon popped out, my girlfriends held me, Rick and Karl, lead the way in song and cocktail, and into the night we slowly walk arm in arm towards Daisy’s, my beacon at the end of the driveway. I was held so I can breathe the fresh air, held by my friends to breathe beyond the pain into the moonlight. I left the schoolhouse in fear, bundled up and returned with a cleansed tear and a voice knowing that next Thanksgiving will be brighter, if they are all like this, they are bright.
A snowy winter visit because we just miss Rick and LoraLea, this year they came over to us. Things became difficult and the drive maybe a bit to much, but in the winter, Quillisascut is portable. We head to Bella Luna Farms, where Pam and Bob illuminate us with their glow, and Pam and Loralea make cheese, we eat soup, and celebrate friendship, no matter where we all are, usually for Karl’s birthday with a nice bottle of Didier. No matter how tired we all are or get from long drives, days of farm work, cancer, chasing goats and babies, quiet as we unusually were, the love of “the farm” is a carefully chosen family of which we never escape and never want, even when we pick on each other. This was the 2013 winter visit. Our time together changes but is always, just that….together. Winter brings such a blanket of snowy warmth, here or at Quiilisascut, life slows and gives us the time to think about our ideas of bringing the farm and us together.
Because spring now approaches, a memory of late in the winter of 2011 arises, I couldn’t wait for the visit, I just had to make a trip, as it was our son, Milo’s, very first farm visit. Karl couldn’t make it, but I felt the need to bring the baby to Rick and LoraLea’s as soon as I could, (he was about 8 weeks old or so) I had the time, our dear friend Linnet accompanied me as we braved the beautiful drive to ‘christen’ Milo on the land we were married, and with this weekend, the sun shone and pool boy was discovered. Ahh…pool boy…..
….pool boy needs his/her own blog post too. Pool boy means spring is coming, the deck is open, and there is a drink to be made. I believe I was pool boy in the year ’11, (he or she changes) but as I wasn’t drinking, I was feeding my little one and staying healthy, I took the role of mixer. I think I put extra special love into those cocktails, because the myth and story of our beloved pool boy has grown into iconic proportions and can never be let down! There is much to learn, but must be discovered from this elusive character, he shifts and sprouts each sunny day with an idea that it is time to sit and enjoy each other, enjoy the next breath of fresh air, breeze and fantasy of what is to come. The big grief this spring is that I am not drinking, due to the meds I am taking, but given the right situation and right pool boy, I could be persuaded. Though pool boy isn’t just a cocktail maker or hour where it is “past the yardarm” of a work day, when it is time to break out the tonics or a simple glass of wine, he breaks us out of the wistfulness of a day of hard work, no matter what each of us are doing. We honor ‘his’ work at keeping us in smiles, after we have cooked, planted seeds, simply to sit and heal in my case, stack wood, build a deck or dream. It is pool boy who reminds us to acknowledge the labor of loves we have at hand.
I think this spring, when I return from my LA respite, my UCLA drug trial, the trail should take me straight back to that Quillisascut sun spot and soak in some healing juices of the farm. Soon, soon, I hope. That will be living, I can write or read about it after. After all, there is a birthday coming up that needs celebrating, and then it will be time for the hot work of summer, growing the fruits of Autumn’s next bounty. The life on the farm is continuous, similar yet ever changing like each new drink we taste together in the sunshine.