Saturday, February 26, 2005

rouge d'hiver vs. butterhead

Today I was a volunteer Silent Auction coordinator for the Acorn conference, Acorn being the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network. It was being held up at the Fredericton Inn, a throwback to the 70's, situated between the Regent Street mall (busy on a Saturday, the parking lot full of the beetle-backs of cars in the sun) and the highway (salt-stained and windy in the winter). I was there for 8 hours, from 9 until 5, a full workday.

In the conference room, and with the help of a few other people, I arranged items, filled out forms, set up the silent auction, oversaw people writing bids, announced the winners, and collected money. I also sat in on seminars, the best being "Organic Greens and Salad Mix Production" with David Greenberg, a Jewish man in a light green button-up shirt who spoke passionately about the merits of rouge d'hiver ("the best tasting lettuce I know of!") and butterhead lettuce ("not lofty but a good taste"). Arugula is a "mortgage lifter", apparently, with junkies showing up at his farm for their salad green fixes.

There was a trade show, and organic beer being served, with organic chips and salsa. Short, accented men with long grey beards and interesting fashion choices milled about, along with young men and women holding hands or babies, and "regular" looking middle-aged people. There was one woman looking glamorous and out of place in a luxurious fur coat. Most everyone smiled and talked, made connections and told stories. After I was done, I collected the three African Violets I'd bought and caught a cab home. The cab driver was a stock car racer who used to sell shrubs at a local nursury. As the local country station twanged quietly, he told me, "Did you know that the dwarf burning bush is the only shrub with square twigs?"

No, I did not. You learn something new every day. He also told me that driving stock cars is his habit, not smoke or drink, and that everyone needs a habit to take the edge of. "Mine's Vogue magazine," I said. "Exactly," he said.

Now I'm home, enjoying Saturday evening, planning to study, listening to Leonard Cohen's Ten New Songs on a relatively loud volume. You have to, to get the full effect of his voice: like aural velvet scraped over gravel. I'll leave you with some lyrics. Oh, Leonard. No wonder you got all the ladies!

May everyone live,
and may everyone die.
Hello, my love,
and my love, Goodbye.

--From "Here it is", on Ten New Songs, 2001, L. Cohen.

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