Another Fermentation Fest has come and gone. It's still happening and there's a whole 'nother weekend of festivities, but it's come and gone for me. I was filled with that mix of melancholy and bittersweet happiness that you get after something you're really looking forward to is over.
It was a great trip for me this year. Maybe the best ever. I got to befriend and spend a spontaneous, intimate, wonderful evening with the artists-in-residence of the Wormfarm Institute, sharing a meal in their little barn kitchen. We had vegetable soup, chunks of bread and a huge log of butter leftover from a D'Tour giveaway, and at the end someone decided to make butterscotch pudding. I paid for my ticket with the last of the homebrew I always take with me, and they were impressed, the way everyone is who is not aware of how easy it is to make fantastic fermented beverages. The best part was a big, bursting heirloom tomato, a round of really fresh, salty mozzarella, and basil leaves plucked from a sprig in a vase on their counter. I relived a whole summer of planting, growing, weeding, picking, and watching in one mouthful.
I made new friends and met up with old ones, learned and taught, took and gave. And this morning I was kind of sad that isn't my whole life all the time. There were bluer moments throughout the weekend, and I don't want to sound too negative or too teen-angsty, but I think it boils down to whether I think I'm making a difference or having enough of an impact on the world. I found myself questioning (sometimes out loud, sometimes to myself) whether eating (and paying for) things like supremely delicious, single farm, fair-trade, chocolate is enough to end poverty.
I bounce madly from one hobby/pastime/interest/skill to the next, trying to find something that sticks. Trying to fill a gap of meaning and authenticity. I talk a good game, and I know a lot of stuff, and everyone likes me. But I'm searching for something that I haven't found. Maybe the lesson from this weekend is that I have found it, I just have to get better at slowing down and enjoying it. Maybe I need to stop flailing around looking for the next best new thing, stop doing the stuff that's crushing me, and allow more space for the good stuff that's already going on.
I was so happy to be coming back to ma femme, leaving the chocolate shop after the butcher in Madison, and touching down in Milwaukee. She's getting ready to tidy up.