Sandpoint, Idaho

by Griffin O'Hara

I don’t want to summarize the time I’ve spent up here yet. I’d like to write a neatly polished draft out first, but in the meantime I (my ego, mostly) will recount a bit. Kind of sieve through my ramblings and to crow my accomplishments.

Now I’m sitting at the library playing Runescape and writing. It’s painfully hot outside, and the lake is close by. My arms are weirdly brown and freckled, they look damaged and dark. I’ve never seen them like this before. I’m probably 20 (closer to 30?) pounds lighter than when I started out. Food is quite the luxury and the necessity. For about a month (more? less?), I had to live off of about a dollar or two a day.

Vegetables were a brilliant revelation for me this summer. Learning how good they were, and how absurd it seemed that we’re able to grow our own food. Steamed beets! Salads! Ramen with all the vegetables I can fit inside it. Kale, that beautiful bushy plant. Chard, hallucinogenic and reminds me of Avatar, the movie.

It bothers me that I’m not outside on (in) the lake or some creek. Spend time outside, or do what I enjoy? I enjoy both. Jarring conflict has been the norm, this summer. I hate the city. But goddammit, shops shouldn’t close at 4 on a Saturday! (But would I be willing to pay this price for the stars that come out at night here? They’re something).

I think I’ve showered maybe once the entire time I’ve been here. You have to pay for your showers, and I couldn’t afford it for the longest time. Now I don’t, out of habit, and because the dips in creeks and Lake Pend Oreille are their own brisk payment.

Picking berries while playing disc golf, alone. Returning to reading, finally! Cookbooks, all those stupid words like sustainability and permaculture, that stand for good things. Fishing. I still can’t hold a fish calmly, and flinch when they flop out of my hand. Damn you, fish, I just want to get the hook out. (Apparently fish can feel pain, and I haven’t been fishing since). Chickens and fish, they share the same gaze. just this terrifying stare that contains nothing, but you’re sure they know absolutely everything about your guilt.

Loneliness is another monster I grapple with here. But then again, we all do, everyday. Always that gulf of understanding. This is the loneliest I’ve been in a while. But it brings its own gifts. Just like every difficulty does.

So while this summer may have been the hardest I’ve been through, I am thankful. I am very thankful.

I came to learn how to farm, but I learned instead that I’m not quite suited to farming. I learned that dumpster diving is productive in a different way than I expected. I learned that I was very fortunate in DC, and had two wonderful bosses and a cadre of amazing friends. I learned that washing dishes is a quick way to trade cash for unhappiness. But those midnight drives back to the farm (Greentree Naturals, by the way) are amazing. Keep the window open and don’t ever stop driving.