Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Too-Tight Rhonda

Many of you have asked for descriptions of the type of people that live on the island. One that I have found myself using as an example over and over on my trip back to the Midwest has been that of Rhonda. She's really neat. She's about my age and really adorable, with cute blonde curly hair and that sparkly cute-girl personality. Often her shoulder-length hair is in two pigtails and she has that classic farm-girl aspect to her. Rhonda has a certain fashion quirk of wearing clothes that are way too small for her. She's not at all big, but seems to choose children's clothing, so that blouses gap between buttons and pants force flesh up and over. It seems to be a deliberate fashion choice and is part of what makes Rhonda sweet. (Jeff always looks a little scandalized when I refer to her as Too-Tight Rhonda because I think he thinks he'll slip and actually address her that way if he hears it enough.) Rhonda has been especially kind to me since my arrival on the island. She makes sure to invite me to things and told me, "I've been thinking about you singing all those words all by yourself to I WILL SURVIVE around the campfire. I thought, 'That's the kind of girl that I want to be friends with.'" It's always nice when someone has been thinking about you during times when you aren't actually together and she's the first to really express her approval of me in such an unequivocal way. I'm filled with the metaphorical warm feeling just thinking about how nice she is.

The really cool thing about Rhonda is, though, that she has a vision for her life and she is following it. Rhonda is a farmer. She has been working as a kind of farm manager, I think, contracting with farmers on the islands to help them produce more efficiently. She was working witht the Bullock family, ( who are famous permaculture practitioners. However, recently, she has managed to lease an acre of good farmland in Crow Valley, which is on the main road through the island. I know that it is good farmland because I overheard her telling joe Bullock about it at the celebration party and he got really excited once he realized just what piece she had. I like it because you can see her working as you drive from town to The Exchange. She is going into business for herself, growing organic food sustainably to sell locally. She says she's scared to death, especailly because she does not have all the money she needs to get started but when I drove by and the sun was shining on her kneeling and measuring out the plots by hand while her dog sat above her on the hill, watching, I was jealous. She is doing what I want to be doing: following a passion. She has gained the skills she needs and is now dedicating herself to a goal that doesn't exploit anything or anyone. And she loves it.

Rhonda is offering shares of the harvest for $500 for 20 weeks worth of vegetabes. The list of what she intends to grow includes artichokes, arugula, chioggia & golden beets, broccoli & brussel sprouts, joi choi cabbage, collards & cauliflower, lemon cucumbers, herbs - culinary and medical, deer tongue lettuce, parsnips, trunips & rutabagas, golden & red raspberries, strawberries galore, cherokee purple tomatoes, winter squast and raven zucchini. That's not even all of it. As you might have guessed, the clever phrasing is hers from her brochure. She calls it la campesina project and writes that she is located, "at lone cow farm 1969 orcas road on a south facing slope, of the flanks of crow valley in the salish sea, on beautiful orcas island." She also writes, "An extra pair of hands, another kindred spirit & more kind hearts are aways welcome at the project . . . young & old alike . . ." I've already told her that I'd like to help out but I think I will call again and use this time that I'm not working to at least help someone else follow her passion.

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