Thursday, January 3, 2019

2018 year in review

It was about one year ago I stepped out of the rain into the vestibule of the bank on the corner of Court and Union Street in Brooklyn to make a sudden phone call to Zoe Wonfor in Calgary, CA. 'I need you to come back to Worlds End' I said. I've been trying to ask for what I need. Lucky for us, she agreed. And in the past year she's become one of the most influential forces here at Worlds End and in the business of Saipua. Her artistic approach to farming, cooking, sewing, and dancing have colored this strange dreamscape -- a place where ecology, art and education have begun to commingle and breed, generating new ways of thinking about how to live

Of all the creative, immensely capable women I've met in my tenure at Saipua, Zoe Wonfor stands out as one of the top. You have to meet her, you will.

Also, thank god Zoe also led us to chili oil. She started making it in the spring. There were various iterations - mouth numbing versions, too-mild versions, strained versions, etc. In general, condiments trended hard at Worlds End this year (along with romance and parasites) - aiolis, chimichuras, yogurt slurs, tahini sauces. Condiments keep things fun and provide creative takes on grains, beans and bread that help us feed more people.

Even though 2018 saw the end of our instagram account, we have plans to start filming new episodes of HOMESTEADING TODAY in the new year -- 'Creative with Condiments!' is slated as episode #4. click click click click, whats that noise you say? Thats the sound of people around the world buckling up for the Saipua You Tube channel launching here live from Worlds End in March 2019. If there's any social media I believe in, its the one that brings me instantaneous how-to videos on skinning a dead sheep or what to do when your prius key fob is out of batteries and you need to get off the farm right now. So hold on to a little of your internet.

In 2018 and I went back to my flower practice slowly with a different frame of mind. Who knows why I'm good at arranging flowers, it is a gift that sprang out of no where - and it would be foolish of me not to use this gift for as much good as I can. This past year with Bryony at the helm of the company, and with a lot more time and space for myself I warmed up to the work again. With the flowers we grow on the farm we can give people the best weddings and it feels foolish not to take a piece of this business in a small, responsible way. I wanted a revolution of the industry - or a radical shift, but instead I came to realize that the shift I want has to happen slowly - is happening slowly - if I just stay the course. Suffice it to say, that in 2018 I started to shed some of my tough, uncompromising skin. A thin line separates the act of sitting in one's integrity and luxuriating in foolish pride.

I continued to consolidate everything in Saipua this year. I got rid of our studio, our vase and prop collection, our van, my apartment in the city. When you burn everything down to the ground you're left with the shining diamonds. As I went through this grand process of relinquishing in 2018 it was the love and support I felt from the Saipua community which gave me courage and kept me moving forward. It is a privilege to know these people...they make me feel safe and confident, they make me laugh and they inspire me to work harder to make beautiful things we can all can share.

Also in 2018 I fell in love with James Mulry, a beekeeping DJ from Queens. We are both Leos, and like two big cats we circle each other. In the middle of the night he takes me dancing, I watch him become more himself this way.  He likes to be out in the world, seeing music, attending every cultural event NYC offers. I like to stay home and communicate with a listserve about sheep parasite prevention. I said to him recently 'We have nothing in common!' He looked up from his reading and responded 'Why does that matter?' I get weak in the knees.

Intimate relationships create a mirror in which we can observe ourselves. Being in love is like being a child again; we become curious and cautious; tender and vulnerable. It's hard for me to stay with those feelings because I like to understand and control my feelings (and everyone else's). This has historically defined my version of safety in the world; and in a lot of ways has served me well. But what started happening in my late thirties is I became very very angry on the inside because I was not paying enough attention to what I wanted and needed. I still struggle to think about what I really want because it feels indulgent.

In the time I took in 2018 to revaluate my work, I came to an important realization about how to develop the project of Saipua and Worlds End. I realized that I needed to always think about what was good for me - what I wanted and then let the structure and programming flow from those desires. If it sounds selfish, it is. Isn't it interesting that women are so afraid of being selfish? Isn't being selfish the only pathway to have real compassion?

I want to have a pattern shop here for apprentices to be able to make their own clothes, or uniforms depending on how they see fit. I want personally, to have several robes of silk and linen made for me to wear in the evenings or around the farm when I'm not in work clothes. I want to arrive to dinner in the big barn on horseback from my princess tower that I build one day in the middle of the beaver swamp. In this princess tower there are three levels. The top level is all glass windows where I keep my favorite books and my favorite, oldest plants. From here I can see a lot of Worlds End through a telescope. When I look through the telescope over at the field I see little bodies working in the bright colored strips of flowers, when I look at the sheep fields I scan over to see the scampering of tiny lambs and the big white dogs laid out sleeping in the sun. I scan the forest, and find a tiny hole in the tree canopy to find the Coyote Cafe where coffee and strange cakes are served from 2-4pm for staff and visitors (if they can find it.) I scan to 'secret' pond and see young lovers skinny dipping (I pause to watch them a while to see if theres going to be any action). If I move my telescope to the big barn I see a beehive of activity because people are getting ready for a big strange party tonight...

In the city a few weeks ago I was walking with James. It was just around thanksgiving when the worst news yet on climate change was coming out. Exasperated I told him, I didn't know how to personally tackle this anymore. 
I don't know what to do except help people find gratitude and celebrate and what we do have left. 
Light a candle every night, and come to Worlds End to dance. 

2 quarts of grapeseed oil
10 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 inches of peeled ginger smashed up a bit
handful of star anise
a few cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons of cardamom pods smashed up a bit
5 tablespoons of hot pepper flakes
3/4 cups of szechuan peppercorns
1.5 teaspoon of salt

Simmer everything over medium heat for 30 min till small bubbles appear on garlic cloves. Remove from heat and strain.
Drizzle on everything


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying the blog. Thanks for sharing. Also, please keep the recipes coming. Excited to see what’s to come at Worlds End. Happy 2019! -Kate

Laylage said...

My "Dream Big" year-to-come planning clearly was not ferocious enough because it did not include a Princess Tower and I see now I clearly want one. I'm a leo introvert, too, and my big cat is grateful for missives from your big cat, prowling in her glass-topped tower. Thank you for continuing to write for us!

Anonymous said...

Nothing can finish off a dish like a good aioli or “drizz” (my word for yogurt as a condiment). I’ve come to realize you can put yogurt mixed with a little citrus and chili or garlic on almost anything and it’s always delicious. Can’t wait to hear about your condiment escapades and more homesteading today!

vail said...

It is pouring raining in Portland, and I just got in bed after having an argument with my visiting mom. And I thought: "I wonder if Sarah has written? Oh please say she has." This is rich and I loved every word. And to hear of James. Oh baby.

Floramama said...

Your words are tasty.
So happy to read you here. I feel lucky to witness your journey. Your growth bends mine. You are helping a lot of folks out there to acknowledge their true calling and remind them to get closer to nature, always. Shine on!

Rhiannon Bosse said...

Your posts have been EVERYTHING to me over the last few months. Keep writing. You're changing lives!

Bianca said...

This is everything. I've always appreciated the transparency in your writing about work and your gratitude for the people who have worked alongside you. This is a most important reflection with a lot of takeaways for anyone, really, regardless of the field in which they work. For me, it's the practice of asking for what you need.
I still hold onto my vision of visiting the farm again to learn, eat, rest, create, and work, only now the vision includes my daughter (!!!) learning and creating and working right next to me.
My short internship with Saipua remains one of the most radical and foundational experiences of my life. Thank you for that opportunity, always.

Bianca B.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yours is the only blog I still read with any consistency. Your words articulating all the things I can't even think about with any clarity, just buzzing around my head in a hazy cloud of dread and hope.

Molly said...

Crazy about you.