Thursday, August 30, 2012

In which the E Train takes us to a Rustic Farm in Queens!

Chelsea Here! So, while creating our 30 under 30 bucket list, we purposely planned to include a variety of items, including financial, physical, learning, life skill, and location-specific goals (among others). We wanted to make sure to include something that was quintessentially New York in nature. When Bonnie first suggested riding every subway in the city end to end, I have to admit I was not terribly on board. With 22 lines, 468 stations, and 660 miles of track, NYC’s subway system is hardly insignificant or easily conquerable. “That’s going to be sooo boring!” I complained. Thankfully, my bestfriendwife knows exactly how to approach me:

“We won’t do it all at once - we’ll do it throughout the 40 months, and explore neighborhoods we’re not familiar with along the way. We can pair it with new and exciting activities that we never would have thought to do otherwise.”

For once in my life, I really couldn’t argue. Not even to advocate for the devil.

I have to say that, though we’re in the early stages of tackling our list, the Subway Challenge is quickly becoming one of my favorite tasks. I love adventures, and seeing new parts of the city, if only for that temporary rush of total disorientation and feeling like a tourist again. I live for the moments in this great city, which I’ve now lived in for 9 years, where I see the streets through a new lens; in new light. And of course, it’s always an interesting experience coming into contact with those in the furthest reaches of the boroughs, who have an entirely different experience of living in New York than I can claim for myself.

On Sunday, August 19th, we rode the E train, end to end. I’m going to let Bonnie take it from here for a bit:

It wasn’t exactly our intention when we set out. Our friend Elise (See Mumford post) organized this awesome Meetup group, called NYC Indie Activists (it’s really fun - if you live in the area, we suggest you join!) and Sunday’s outing was to volunteer at a farm in Queens.

Yes, you read right: a FARM in QUEENS. Be still, my heart.

It's called the Queens County Farm Museum, and it's been running since 1697. 1697! Technically, it's owned by NYC's Department of Parks & Rec., but it still operates as a fully functioning farm. Initially, we made the rookie mistake of fooling ourselves into thinking that a destination within the five boroughs must be reasonably close. No big deal, we'll just pop over and farm for a couple of hours, right?! Not so. The geographic reaches of this city are truly remarkable. Upon Google mapping the address, we realized THAT.SHIT.IS.FARRRR. See? We are learning about the city already! We contemplated a Zipcar (30 minute drive) but we didn’t have an account (we do now). Subway it was: an estimated 1 hour and 30 minute trip.

Everything we ever dreamed of.
“Is it at least at the end of the line?!” my clever, optimistic wife inquired.

“No. Four stops shy. Then we take a bus.” Defeated. Guess we’ll knock it out another time.

About an hour and fifteen minutes into our journey, I say, “Whatever. Let’s just ride to the end and turn around. We won't be that late and can handle going back four stops to get the bus.”

Chelsea: “Let’s do this ish! BUCKET LIST.”

I have a feeling this will become our mantra in times of doubt and, let’s face it, laziness. Bucket list? BUCKET LIST!!

Making things happen
We rode to the end of the E train (Jamaica Center), snapped some photos, and headed back. Arriving 40 minutes late for our farm date, we instantly confessed to Elise why we were tardy (Chelsea interjection: and it wasn't due to the wonderful crew at McDonald's who spend hours making those Egg McMuffins, amirite?!). Angel that she is, Elise forgave us (OBV), and we got to weeding. This was no ordinary weeding, mind you. No rustling your fingers through the top inch of soil to gingerly dislodge the roots of the little weedlings. No, friends. This was like, "hey see that forest of vegetation right there? There’s eggplants growing in there somewhere. Pull anything that isn’t one."

And boy did my wife pull. “Pull” doesn’t quite capture it, though. She waged WAR on those weed trees (no, not THOSE weed trees. Down, stoners!) like they were middle school bullies. And you couldn’t just take down the Queen Bee, but you had to take down all her minions too.

I (Chelsea) feel I have to interject here and clarify that I am no rube when it comes to weeding. My first job ever was working on an herb farm, Caprilands, where I helped weed the 50+ gardens on the premises. As I’m sure you can imagine, after a couple of months of this mindless labor, things get a little tedious. So I did what any imaginative girl would do - personified the weeds. Initially, the year 2000 Chelsea would just grumble under her breath at the weeds, “come on you little jerks! I’m gonna get you!” But eventually, the battle turned into so much more. They were my enemies, and they would be stopped.

My inner dialogue, which I fully vocalized on the farm in front of the other volunteers, went a little something like this:

“Your time has come. I will not stop until you’ve been destroyed.”

“Oh eggplants, you may think they’re your friends. That’s so cute. THEY’RE NOT. They’re evil, selfish and sneaky! One minute, they’re just hanging out near your roots, and the next, they’re leveling your existence. All your brothers and sisters standing around you? Gone too, if these assholes have anything to say about it.”

Chelsea, taking down the king pin.
Yes. I really say these things while gardening. I’m sure you can only begin to imagine how intense I was on the rugby pitch.

Anyway, the other volunteers kind of laughed along, promptly followed by moving over to another row of veggies, presumably to get away from the crazy person talking to the plants. Whatever. They clearly don’t know the joy of triumphantly clearing out a row and announcing “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” to a dazzled crowd of hot peppers, who've been anxiously awaiting their liberation from clutches of terrorism the Axis of Weed Evil. 

Victory is OURS
So there you have it. My wife, the playwright to the destruction of weeds. I tried to vocalize a retort on behalf of the weeds. You know, something like, “Hey, just because we aren’t as delicious as those eggplants doesn’t mean we don’t deserve yummy nutrients, tooooo. Wahhh.” But there was no grey area in Chelsea’s decade-long battle between vegetable and weed; good and evil.

And as in all proper stories, the good guys won out. We made a fantastic showing against those weeds and were rewarded with free (!!!), as much as our arms could carry, access to the farm’s vegetable store room. Crates of heirloom tomatoes, huge bushels of kale, lettuce, and leeks, and my personal prize: a monstrous eggplant that I picked myself. A week’s worth of delicious, locally grown vegetables for the price of a solid afternoon’s work. And then to boot, we got to play with farm animals! Pigs, goats, and alpaca that we fed baby carrots.

Bonnie's prize eggplant. Which she cradled in her arms like a small child. Seriously.
We honestly couldn’t have asked for a better day. Tuckered though we were, we knew what we had to do. Ride to the other end. Lucky for us, the E train ends at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, not terribly out of our way. We documented our achievement, with slightly less vigor than we had on the way out, and then made our respective ways home.  

Last stop!

1 train down, 21 to go.

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