Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Weekend with The Seaweed Man Part 1

(CLICK PICTURES TO ENLARGE AND ENJOY)


At 12:45am last Friday, this cool picture of John Lennon and a horrible sounding ringtone woke me up.  You know, that terrible sound you hear every morning that makes you want to not only physically break your phone, but emotionally break its spirit too?  Then you realize how much of a pain it will be to walk into Verizon and replace it...that familiar sound.  So after 15 grueling minutes convincing myself that if I sleep through the alarm, I will have taught that obnoxious sound a lesson and another 13 calling Matt, we finally got our things together and set sail for Maine.  We were off to...
spend the weekend working and learning from The Seaweed Man, Larch Hanson, who we were lucky enough to meet a few weeks ago when he came down to teach a class at Stone Barns.  After long deliberations the night before, Matt and I decided the best way to take on the 8 hour drive to Steuben, Maine was to suck it up and do it all in one shot.  With our map, music, "organic" redbull and excitement we head out in the late evening darkness.




About 4 hours into the drive, the rising sun finally began to unveil the beauty of the scenery around us.  We had no idea that for all of these hours we had been driving past one of the most incredible Northeast seasonal transitions of the year. 


As with all road trips, a few stops along the way were called for including this monster breakfast, which cost us under $10 combined (unheard of for us New Yorkers) and a family farm/cafe that specialized in tuna melts??







A few hours later we found our way to Larch's home in Steuben, right off the coast.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but his long, almost hidden driveway lead us right to his incredible home.  Larch explained that over almost 20 years he has built this house.  With help from friends, neighbors, apprentices, volunteers and anyone else willing, Larch has turned his dream into a reality.



At first we couldn't find anyone at home, but walking around the property we heard some noise from above...


Larch was up on the roof, high above the trees cleaning his chimney, preparing for the winter cold.  He gave us a quick tour of the house including where we would be sleeping and eating for the weekend.







There was no to time to sit around discussing how incredible everything was, once we put our stuff down, it was right to work.  Larch is always working to improve his home and with the cold fall weather setting in, he wanted to make sure another greenhouse was up and ready for his garden.  This one would be an 11 frame, 40 ft greenhouse, using mostly recycled wood from an older seaweed drying rack Larch had built.  First we had to prep the frames and create two doorways.  Lucky enough, there was another volunteer named Charlie who had some building experience.  With a quick watch-and-learn tutorial from Larch and Charlie, Matt and I jumped in to help.  







Here you can see Matt displaying his multi-tasking abilities, holding the door frame perfectly in place with one hand, while simultaneously texting his girlfriend to explain exactly what he was doing driving 8 hours to Maine for the weekend with the other...the kid's got talent.



As the sun began to fade, we knew we wouldn't be able to finish the greenhouse, but there was still prep work to be done before dinner and cool headlamps were in order.





When we got inside, there was still work to be done as we all helped prep dinner.  This was some of the best food I've ever eaten.  An amazing meal featuring freshly picked cranberries from right down the road, beets, zucchini, squash and potatoes from Larch's garden all accompanying a few delicious local Cornish game hens.





An aesthetically pleasing and incredibly tasty homemade meal was coupled with fantastic conversations talking to Larch, Nina and Charlie.  The sharing of stories was worth the long haul alone and yet here we were with all these added bonuses.  Although we had just spent all day driving and physically working hard on very little sleep, the excitement of having such a great experience assisting in the creation of "real" projects like the greenhouse and dinner and the desire to learn as much as we could felt unbelievable.  There was a fantastic energy, something almost euphoric.

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