remembering, with gratitude
Over the weekend my grandfather passed away after a brief illness. As our family mourns his passing and celebrates his life, I wanted to share how he made Bending Bridge Farm possible. The day before he went to the hospital he was busy organizing to plant another fifty trees in a small arboretum he started a few years ago on a farm in Lancaster. Humbly called "the meadow", he has collected and planted many types of native trees such as oaks, ashes, and sweet gums. A lover of nature, he built a beautiful home on a wooded lot to raise his family and when I came along I would spend nearly every Friday night "up in the woods" with him. We would watch the birds (and pesky squirrels) feast at the feeders, go for walks on crisp fall leaves, and collect daffodils and azaleas in spring time. He operated a limestone quarry with his family and that too was a great playground for me as a child. When he had to check a pump station on Friday nights or work Saturday mornings, I would tag along to explore the ponds and mounds of rock and sand. I didn't recognize it as a child, but he shared this appreciation of the natural world with me, and I eventually fell in love with working outdoors.
My grandfather gave me not only an appreciation for humble manual work, but also a great intellectual curiosity and love of learning. We were kindred spirits in many ways. Always a voracious reader, especially of history, philosophy, and science, he was incredibly ambitious in his quest to understand the workings of the natural world and human mind. I kid you not, a textbook on cell biology is among the many books he had been reading. He even showed support of my interest in agriculture by reading up on the chemistry of genetic modification and pesticides! I certainly wouldn't be the farmer, or woman, I am today it if wasn't for his lessons in seeking information and thinking critically.
In many ways you have Stanley Ober to thank for the food that comes from our fields, especially because it was his largess that enabled us to start the farm full-time and eventually invest in land of our own. Cameron and I would have never been able to pursue our dreams without his lifetime of disciple, frugality, and hard work. As I harvest this week I am full of such gratitude for the life of my grandfather and the special relationship I had with him: his gifts , both material and intangible, are immeasurable. These vegetables, and so much more, are part of his legacy of working, tending, and loving. Always, but now especially, I hope what we've grown helps you to savor special time with loved ones and nourishes your body and heart.
"Pau Pau" with his wife Jane during a visit to my apprentice cabin at New Morning Farm in 2008