The Summer of Love

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It’s hard to reach out and share food in these uncertain times. On the one hand, it is obvious that many people (particularly children) are need of a good meal. On the other hand, I do not want to share the coronavirus along with my signature spaghetti and meatballs. What’s a caring cook to do? I like the model set by the hippies during the summer of love: share freely with flowers in your hair (or in this case, a mask on your face).

We are all living like hippies now. If the grown-out hair, bread-baking frenzy, and bean-eating aroma hasn’t clued you in, the fact that marijuana stores were deemed essential in Colorado should dispel any doubts. While we don’t need to adopt all of the hippie fads and habits, we can consider some of them like the “back to the land” ethic. In our rural community, it’s hard to get much closer to the land than we already are with our day-to-day routines around gardens, animals, and outdoor recreation. But we can embrace our place a little more lovingly. Instead of grouching about the wind and how we are going to struggle through another drought, perhaps we could adopt the Hopi custom of singing to our corn. A rain dance couldn’t hurt either. Instead of mindlessly grinding through the list of chores, look up once in a while and smell the roses, listen to a birdsong, or welcome a passing cloud. The idea here is to connect more deeply with our place and the peace that nature brings to a crazy world.

Home crafting is another hippie custom that we are seeing on everybody’s face these days as our long hair drapes around a homemade fabric face mask. Whether lovingly sewn or carefully folded, we all need to be grateful that we are wearing face masks. Even though it is itchy, fogs up eyeglasses, and adds another element of absurdity to moving through public places during a pandemic, our homemade face mask outwardly displays the hope we feel for a future in a healthy and thriving community. It is an outward sign of the respect we hold for each other. I cannot think of a better way to show your love for your local community than to wear a face mask.

But I want to share food too. Here are a few tips that I have picked up in my endless hours on the virus- infected internet.

  • Intense heat kills the virus – so encourage your grill-master to serve food right off the grill. It might be a bit warm to go from grill to waiting mouth, but a clean paper plate is fine.
  • Follow immaculate kitchen etiquette and keep your hands to yourself. No licking fingers, tasting spoons, or other utensils that could connect you (and your germs) to the food. Use clean pots, pans, serving dishes and utensils. Everybody gets and uses one set of utensils. Coughing or sneezing near the buffet (even with a sneeze guard) is verboten.
  • Share food that was preserved last year. I just found a stash of apple sauce that is tasty and easy to share. Let the recipient clean the container and open and eat it at home.
  • Share food right out of the garden or off the tree. Didn’t hippies invent urban gleaning? The summer of love will definitely follow the “U-Pick model”. As a picker, remember to follow good U-Pick etiquette: 1) ask first and have the owner show you where and how to pick the offered veggies or fruit. 2) Return the favor by asking if you can do something in return such as weed a row, repair a fence, or wash a window.

Speaking of U-Pick, a sure sign that the world hasn’t come to a bitter end is the opening of local farmers’ markets. Durango’s farmers’ market opened in mid-May and is running from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The Cortez Farmers’ market opens on Saturday, June 6, at 7:30 a.m. I have often said that the best thing about a farmers’ market is the shopping experience. What could be better than shopping outdoors surrounded by fresh food and friendly faces? I never expected that it would be COVID-compliant as well. So, don’t be afraid to dive into this summer of love (or McPhee Reservoir since the outdoor pool will stay shuttered this year). Even though we might meet behind face masks, we can still share good food and sing together while we weave flowers in our (longer) hair.

Carolyn Dunmire writes from Cahone, Colo. She recently took first place in the arts & entertainment/ food criticism category (for the third year) in the four-state Top of the Rockies Society of Professional Journalists competition for work done in 2019.

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From Carolyn Dunmire.