The King and Queen of Brussels

by Kate

Tis the day before Thanksgiving, and I am seated calmly upon a wooden stool at home, sipping coffee and still pondering my grocery list for the meal I am hosting tomorrow for my husband’s family.  I am amazed to find myself here- not because I am preparing a large meal tomorrow, since my role as the eldest of 9 in a farm family meant that every Sunday afternoon involved a Thanksgiving like meal- but because I spent a good portion of my life working in the produce section of the grocery store. In the grocery world, Thanksgiving is a grand crescendo of madness. It is hurried and harried and glorious. One year a wild eyed woman threatened to have the head of my boss if he did not produce the proper organic free range precisely weighted heirloom turkey she wanted. It was a wild whirlwind of a week, and I miss it…. but I am glad to be here, pondering my grocery list.

Thankfully, my family is still deeply rooted in the world of produce. Last year, I wrote this post about Mary, farm photography, and memories of my mountain farmers. This year, the autumn harvest is pouring in again and out onto the shelves of our local food coops, and it was time for another photo shoot. This time Clare took over my father’s duties as photographer and followed Mary and Dad out into the field.

Clare may not be the most natural farmer in the family (who could forget the Red Vegetable From Hell), but she does have a great eye for photos.

Although I’m a little unsure what my father is doing with that machete there. Perhaps illustrating the cutthroat world of organic farming and marketing? The close and yet sometimes sharp relationship he shares with his daughter Mary? These two are quite the pair. Lone wolves, both of them- but then so many farmers are. I love this next picture, and think it is worth a thousand words on farming, freedom, harvest, solitude, and peace.

Back when my Dad was a part time farmer and full time journalist, he carried a big photo bag everywhere he went and took pictures for the paper, and he often let one of the kids take the picture and get a published photo credit. He often advised us to get down on one knee. Mary said during this shoot he gave this advice to Clare again, and then he and Mary knelt too. I think it may be the best shot, and I’ll bet it’s the one that will end up in the ads or on a big produce section wall somewhere.

I took a look at that photo and then went back to that post I mentioned earlier, the one about my own brief and lovely career meeting farmers in the mountains and taking their pictures, and sure enough- there I was on one knee. On this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for the way that my father taught me and formed my life, for bountiful harvests and sharp and rusty blades, and all.

Off to the produce section to find some brussel sprouts of my own- Happy Thanksgiving!

1 thought on “The King and Queen of Brussels

  1. Minnesota Prairie Roots

    I think your family should have shipped some fresh brussel sprouts to you.

    This whole story and the accompanying photos are so touching for the joy your family finds in tending the earth, in loving each other, in simply appreciating life.

    Have a most blessed Thanksgiving, Kate!


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