Eyes open. Early morning embraces me, an indiscriminate lover of anyone willing to meet it. I don't know what I will find here.
Suddenly I am happy. My arms are sore soon enough but they are compulsive in and of themselves. They move quicker than my mind but never quick enough, I think. My understanding is sacrificed to the necessity of swift work. How did that pile of crops disappear so fast? Because they had to, the Knowing Voice answers, and because you are more than you think you are.
Pick it up, he says, and points to the trowel on the ground. Dig. I lean down, my knees pushing into the dusty path and creating space for me there. My arms reach out but what they grab is kohlrabi. I tug until I hear the satisfying sound of roots leaving the dirt. One vegetable drops from my hand and I must stretch across the bed to retrieve it. Tomato plants and their branches sag over my back and head, blocking the light and sky from my view. The aroma down here, in my army crawl position, is like too much incense in a small room. I am dizzy but I keep wriggling forward, tearing weeds from in front of me as I go. Finally I can't take the beautiful stench anymore and stand up, blinking. The weight of dozens of turnips pulls at my arms. The bag over my shoulder is destined for the cooler and as I walk into it, my eyes look for an empty corner. The darkness makes me think any one of them is eligible, but I know better. I reach around, trying to feel out a solution, and something grabs my hand. It starts to sting and I stop picking beans for a moment, just a moment, and sit back in the field under the bright sun to stare at the spider bite that is becoming a red lump. I rub my finger over it, curious, and plunge the stricken limb into some cold water. Out of the sink comes a bunch of carrots, and then beets, and then radishes. Each must be categorised by size and beauty, and then strangled with elastic. The flicking and snapping hurts my hands and my ears and finally I turn to place them on the table. The wood is filthy so I wipe down the surface before I place a steaming hot saucepan on it. I need pepper, and salt, and water, and what should I do about a salad? They'll all be coming soon. Hurry, hurry, cutlery and glasses. I run to the door; I need to harvest herbs for this dish. Out into the sunlight I go, and scoop up baby. He is escaping again, off to the gravel driveway or the hammock or the tubs of water used to rinse dirty kale and swiss chard. Round and around we go, swinging and laughing and sometimes biting when we're not being well behaved. He wants to stay outside so we do flips on the hammock and run around the porch in a fragmented game of hide and seek. When I run back to meet him at the back door, I find my dirty hat on the ground. Face cast downward, I place it back onto my head. In front of me is a small hole with potatoes scattered inside it. I rummage about in the soil for more and then crawl onto the next place. The thump of the potatoes tossed over my shoulder into a basket is satisfying enough to merit more scrounging. And then the call to come in to lunch is sounded and I ask "what did I do all morning?"
There are foods in front of me that I would never have assumed were for my mouth or my stomach. People are leaning forward over the table, watching me. Eat them, they push, and I do. Relief rubs my shoulders and strokes my hair as I nod in agreement.
I awake, now, and rub my eyes. My hands are comprised of only dirty skin, cuts and callouses. When I cry the tears of someone still drunk on sleep, they are infused with specks of soil. I smile and reach for my hat. The tent glows with the promise of the day outside and I have another chance to meet it. The dream is waiting for me.
It's not a perfect metaphor.