As the parking lot gravel crunched under the weight of my tires, my eyes swept over the tidy landscape of Frith Farm. Nestled in a woodsy corner of Scarborough, ME, the farm sits on the the edge of the forest. I stepped out of the car and took in the view of greenhouses, rows upon rows of flowers and vegetables, a henhouse and pasture, and a barn filled with harvested goods ready for CSA members. As much as I longed in that moment to gather some fresh, organic goods for dinner, I was not there to pick vegetables - I was there to pick the brain of an old friend.
Caroline stepped out of the barn and greeted me with a warm hug. I was happy to see she still dons her effortless, earthen-toned style, and chuckled to myself at the knife on her hip. Of course knives are practical on a farm, I thought to myself. It just made her seem that much cooler.
Caroline gave me a tour of the CSA offerings, ranging from fat heirloom tomatoes to green zucchini and beautifully colored greens. A highlight of the tour was bunches upon bunches of freshly picked garlic hanging from the rafters. "We harvested 13,000 heads this season," Caroline pointed out. Dang.
With jars of wine in hand, our tour extended beyond the barn to the farm grounds. We peeked inside greenhouses, interrupted the turkey chicks' dinnertime, walked up and down rows of crops, and hung out in with the hens in the pasture. Farm life is always something I've dreamed about in an admittedly idealized way, and as we talked I found myself envying Caroline's lifestyle. Ever since we first met in high school, I'd always admired her way of life and the vibe she exudes. She grew up on a Maine island and has been working on farms off and on for quite some time. High school is a time when it's easy to get caught up in what everybody else is doing, but Caroline always seemed to follow her own path. It was never off-putting, but instead quite inviting.
Caroline is still very much the same, only with more freckles and more stories to tell. She traveled throughout Europe after our high school graduation, particularly enjoying Barcelona. Next was attending college in Ohio, where she pursued Environmental Studies and Religion. Leaving Ohio was hard, but she's happy to be spending the season at Frith Farm.
We made our way back to the house where she lives on the farm with another apprentice, both working on the grounds for food, stay, and a stipend. The house was charming. It lacked some finishing touches that you might see in most other houses, but that served as a reminder that we don't really need as much as we think. A huge farmhouse-style sink and stout woodburning stove made the kitchen/living area feel sweet and cozy.
Caroline put out homemade pickles and cheese, as well as a huge block of cheddar and some crackers for a snack. As we munched, we talked about how we both admire people who think to themselves "Hey, that's really cool. I would love to do that!" and then they actually do that thing. Caroline had one of these moments recently, and now has a project of her own going on. After helping another Maine farm lop off lamb tails earlier this year, she took home armfuls of the tails. Most are still in her freezer, but she has started to cure some of them and make them into protective talismans as gifts for friends. "Sort of like a lucky rabbit's foot," she said, showing me two of her latest crafts. Caroline talked about how the tails, to her, represent that sometimes we have to move on from places or people in life, but we can still carry the memories with us.
When we had made a significant dent in the cheddar block, we left the house for one last peruse around the farm. Caroline took me through the nicest chicken slaughter facilities I could have imagined: shining stainless steel, spotless cement floors, and subway tile fit for a New York City apartment kitchen. We took Sweaters, the farm cat, along with us as we observed the flower garden and a spare shed that is sometimes a studio apartment. The sun was setting softly against the trees, and Sweaters was very accepting of snuggles. I kept thinking to myself, "Life is good."
My entire visit with Caroline was incredibly beautiful. The meticulous farm scenery, the ability to reconnect so openly, the simple breaking of bread and drinking of wine, the sweet summer air. I left with a deep peace sitting in my chest. As I made my way home, I was content to forgo my usual Spotify playlist and instead ride with the windows down and just be.