Bug Hill Farm, Ashfield, Massachusetts
Host: Kate Kerivan
Bug Hill Farm is my first real stopping place. I met Kate in the spring and we hit it off, so we stayed in touch as construction lagged over the summer, and on August 25th I drove the Canoa from Greenfield, where PV Squared had just finished installing my solar power system, to Kate's farm. I have been parked among wildflowers and pines for nearly three weeks, using Bug Hill as my base, as I travel between various storage units, and back and forth to get final items to fit out my vehicle.
Kate grows a delicious variety of berries on her land, in greenhouses and along paths in the open air: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, red and black currants, gooseberries, elder berries, and anti-oxidant powerhouse aronia berries. She also makes jams and shrub, an amazing sweetened vinegar-preserved juice used to flavor drinks.
One long day of trying to work online with minimal reception and deal with multiple bureaucracies, I turned off the electronics and went to find Kate and beg her to let me pick berries. With buckets slung round my neck on string, I set off in the late afternoon to work my way down a long aisle of ripening fall raspberries. All around me bees worked the late flowers, while dragonflies and hummingbirds glittered and whirred around me. In minutes my agitated spirits had settled and I sank into a fruit scented trance, my body falling into the rhythm of reach, pluck, release into the bucket, reach again. I spent a peaceful hour among the berries and winged life, grateful for the chance.
During these weeks, I've gotten to know the life support systems of my vessel: how to read the various control screens of my solar power array and get to know how much power different appliances use, and how much power I generate on a cloudy day. How many showers and dishwasher loads one tank of fresh water provides. How to keep my composting toilet in odorless order. How to light and maintain a fire in my Kimberly stove. And a lot of time sorting and stowing and rearranging, figuring out how to live with way fewer possessions in a much smaller space than before.
I've also gotten to know local roads and nearby towns, especially Greenfield. I've spent a lot of time at the Green Fields Food Co-op, eating from their lunch buffet, buying healthy food, and using the town's free wifi--between trips to hardware stores, the Greenfield Farmer's Cooperative Exchange--a glorious general store--and the self-storage unit where I sort through paper, artwork, ritual and decorative objects and household odds and ends. Greenfield boats some great eateries, and before my stove was up and running, I dined on lamb burgers and cilantro-lime sodas at Hope & Olive, and a variety of truly delicious dishes at The Clay Oven, a Main Street Indian restaurant with fabulous food and haphazard service. I love a town where Main Street traffic stops for jay walkers!
In about a week I will be pulling out of Kate's drive and heading west toward Albany and beyond, but will never forget my first safe harbor, where I got to really starting living in my new home.