Cold Spring Diary: “Spring Lambs”

by David St.-Lascaux


Spring lambs, and a black-and-white goat leg, Glynwood

February 27, 2014

HAVING MOVED IN last Friday, we’ve now spent about a week unpacking, hanging pictures, getting settled, and getting around the neighborhood. The day after we moved in, we visited the Cold Spring Farmers’ Market at the 1874 Parish Hall of St. Mary’s in the Highlands 1869 church. St. Mary’s was funded in part, rather opposite to Christian principles, by monies flowing from Cold Spring’s West Point Iron and Cannon Foundry’s Civil War Parrott cannonworks; but no matter. It’s a tall-steepled gray granite structure halfway up the ascending hill, that is, ascending up from the ice floed Hudson River, of Cold Spring’s main street.

As we walked up St. Mary’s driveway, we saw a fishmonger whose tent and trays exactly resembled the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza 47th Street Greenmarket by the United Nations and Japan Society in New York. Indeed, we were relieved to find that Pura Vida Fisheries, our very – beloved – Manhattan source for fresh, local seafood, is also present in Cold Spring. Sing hallelujah. Next stand over was a local orchard selling the sweetest apple cider.

Later on Saturday, we drove up Route 301 to Glynwood, formerly the gentleman’s farm of George W. Perkins I (oligarchy advocate, Palisades preservationist, Bear Mountain State Park arranger, and owner/planner of the horticultural and arboreal treasure Wave Hill in the Bronx), now operating a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. One of the farmers told us that Glynwood is open Thursdays 3-6, so we came back today (Thursday) with my fiancée’s son, visiting from the New Jersey suburbs. The place was bustling: we met several of the farmers as well as a few of our fellow Cold Springians, including a lady whose family has lived in the area for six generations. We bought ground lamb, lamb sausage and eggs. Most wonderfully, a young lady farmer with a cherubic, ruddy complexion gave us a tour of the nursery barn, in which were a bountiful flock of spring lambs, a dozens or so goats, and a small herd of cattle with calves. One of the cutest goats was a short-eared black-and-white Lamancha, who quite per- and insistently demanded to partake of our coat hems and sleeves. The sound of a ewe baa-ing amid the utterly adorable romping mangerful of lambs and kids was unbearably endearing. We’ll certainly be back to Glynwood on Thursdays, and plan to join the CSA.

Coming to Cold Spring, we realize that we’re moving closer to real sustenance: the animals and land that feed our bodies and souls. Over the holiday, we discovered Christopher Rand’s The Changing Landscape, a compilation of essays originally published in the New Yorker beginning in 1952 about the changing face of American agriculture in the face of postwar automotive and chemical industrialization. Although Rand attempts objectivity, the story he tells is one of dehumanization (as horse or mule teamsters are replaced by tractors, and farmhands evaporate to factory jobs) and disconnection with the land (as farmers become vehicle “fleet owners” and crop rotation is abandoned) in the name of efficiency. As always in America and capitalism, it’s rarely necessary to forcibly impose ideology: industrial agriculture inexorably achieved its monopoly status by making it impossible for small farmers to financially survive, as the vast, depopulated (and perhaps soon de-aquified) Midwestern and West Coast agricultural belts bear increasingly empty witness. Rand, in a first-chapter anecdote:

I know of a hand in town whose wife, according to Dame Rumor, feeds him nothing but a breakfast food called Cheerios. He was seen preparing a garden not long ago, and his mother-in-law asked him if he was going to plant Cheerios in it.

RAND’S REFLECTIONS were later followed by those of Verlyn Klinkenborg, a former Iowa farm boy writing for the New York Times. Klinkenborg, a haiku essayist of three-paragraph elegies on such subjects as the solstice and the owl, signed off at the beginning of 2014. In Cold Spring Diary, it is my humble aim to take the baton from these authentic geniuses, and to share with you some twenty-first century observations on the state of the countryside, and resources for viable living.

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March 4, 2014: “A Found Letter; Seeing Stars”

Text and photo copyright © 2014

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