Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Berry Fine Evening

Though the day turned out a little cool and occasional showers threatened to douse us, the Renaissance Man and I enjoyed a day down at Malabar Farm, former home of writer Louis Bromfield and now a state park.

We arrived for some of the fun of Spring Plowing Days and stood back to watch various Ohio farmers drive their draft horse teams across Malabar's working farm fields to plow the soil. Once in a while, a farmer would let an interested bystander have a hand at the plow, something I was somewhat tempted to try myself.

We wandered around the farm a bit and enjoyed a late lunch at Malabar Farm Restaurant (in an old post-inn) before returning to the farm for a special occasion.

The main excitement of the day was the arrival of none other than Wendell Berry himself -- farmer, poet, professor, essayist, voice of the agrarian spirit, and prophet for our times. The Malabar Farm Foundation had decided to bestow the Louis Bromfield Society Award on him at the annual barbeque, and I managed to get tickets for the Renaissance Man and I to go and meet one of our literary heroes.

Bless Wendell's ever-loving soul, he was nice as pie -- humble, soft-spoken, utterly gracious, and possessed of a wonderful sense of humor. He signed books for us and even agreed to have his photo taken with us at my request, much to my excitement.

Surprisingly, though, the most stimulating part of the evening for me was to sit down to dinner with a couple from a nearby college town who have been farming for a while and expressed interest in Local Roots, and their introduction of the subject drew everyone at the table into conversation. (We also found ourselves being entertained by an older lady at the table who had gone to school with one of Bromfield's daughters and had some stories to share about the farm in its heyday.) Nothing against the famous Mr. Berry, mind you, just a wonderful way to cap off a highly thought-provoking and enjoyable day.

I'm hoping to write more about the farm and the event for the Ethicurean (UPDATED: the article is now up at the Ethicurean), but, well, I was just so thrilled by the whole adventure that I wanted to share it here, too.

And what a Berry fine way to spend a day!

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