Tonight the arches of my feet ache so deeply I can nearly taste it. The ache leaves a tang in the back of my mouth. My calves burn, a deep, low smolder echoed in my lower back and shoulders. My neck muscles remain tight, ready for me to find one more thing to do, one more little task.
Mark crawled out of bed at 7:00. Yes, you read that right; my husband the night owl clambered out of bed as the sun himself protested with me to crawl back between the warm sheets. He spent the better part of the next three hours outside in his little garden trimming, clipping, and snipping his herbs into shape.
At 10 he took Burgundy to tutor her student, and I began to gather my wits for the day's to-do list. By 11, Mark had amassed a sorted pile of excess herbs and greens ranging from arugula to lemongrass, and he bagged them all and drove to the farmers' market. By then, I already had cash in hand and waited patiently to pick up my fresh milk and chicken. I have never bought chicken through this person before, and I'm eager to see whether this chicken lives up to Michael Pollan's hype on free-range, local, well-fed chicken.
Next I gathered Marie, who wanted to join Burgundy and me on our day's outing. Burgundy had loaded her typewriter into the car, and after relieving her student of Burgundy's company, we headed downtown to Dromgoole's, a tiny, mom-and-pop, pen and stationary store in Houston's Rice Village. So we began our foray with retail therapy. I bought a beautiful new fountain pen, deep navy and mostly metal with a bladder for ink instead of only a cartridge option. I also bought more notebooks, beautiful notebooks with heavy, thick smooth paper designed for fountain pens and writing. Burgundy left with a new red and black ink cartridge in her [likely] 40's vintage corona typewriter.
From there, we went to a tiny chocolaterie where we spent a really inexcusable amount on truffles. And not the French mushroom kind. No, we spent twelve dollars on four pieces of chocolate. We ate lunch at Star Pizza and proceeded from there to Froberg's Market in Alvin.
I'm so glad we went. We arrived to find scores of people in the fields with their families plucking red, juicy strawberries from row upon row of plants, so we picked up four little buckets and spent the next hour stooped over in the fields abandoning first dignity, then shoes and socks for as many of the berries as we could fit in our buckets. We found that the walking rows in one end of the field were waterlogged and muddy, and into these clearly uninhabitable reaches, less stalwart folk had failed to wander. Thus we plucked nearly 20 pounds of ripe berries without covering more than three planted rows.
We visited with my mother and friends of hers who had come into town to visit briefly for a few minutes before discovering we were late for my father-in-law's birthday dinner. We called to ask for a later start time, which was granted with good grace, and the girls and I left for home.
By the time we bought my FIL's gift (a copy each of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, books he will love perhaps too much), wrapped it, met them at the restaurant, stopped by Half-Price Books (where I snagged What to Eat by Marion Nestle for $4, thank you very much), we were verging on 9:00 PM.
Back at the house, Burgundy began her studies, Mark showed his parents the latest in his garden, and Marie and I began washing and coring berries. We finished 10 pounds, and I froze 11 pints of sliced and quartered strawberries. By 11 PM, we had 5 remaining berries, so we poured ourselves a bowl each of my homemade vanilla granola, sliced in the strawberries, covered it all with milk, and enjoyed the most decadent midnight snack I could imagine. At that moment, I felt so grateful to the earth for her fruit, to God for his genius design, and to genetics for making sure Burgundy did not want any part of our strawberries.
Now it's half past midnight. Mark's catalogued his garden's contents for me, and he's perusing a large picture book on organic gardening. We each have a glass of Haak Winery's Syrah, and I feel alive, accomplished, and utterly spent.