Hawaiian Summer Camp

I actually just write a gardening blog now

I spent seven hours doing farm work in a white shirt today. There’s dirt under my fingernails and mosquito bites all along my arms, but I feel better than I did after working the same shift last Thursday. Last week, I was too tired to blog, and too grumpy to cook dinner. This week, the hot water in the shower isn’t working, and I’m not even dreading the cold shower that awaits me when I’m done writing this post.

The view of the vegetable garden from the internet tent where I write my blog posts
The view of the vegetable garden from the internet tent where I write my blog posts

We planted sweet potatoes today. A few weeks ago, some of the workers cleared out all the unwanted plants from a papaya grove, and today we went through and started rebuilding the underbrush with helpful plants. Sweet potatoes grow on vines and have shallow roots. Early on in the day, we joked that you can toss a sweet potato vine onto a pile of dirt and it will take, and by the end of the day, tired of turning soil and pressing vines into the earth, that’s what we were doing.

I’m learning the names of the plants, slowly. Nasturtiums I recognize from gardens back home — pretty round leaves, and spicy flowers in shades of orange and yellow — although I never used to remember their names. Honohono grass is a weed that needs to be removed, but I learned today that it can also be sauteed and eaten. Most plants can be eaten; it’s just a matter of whether or not they taste good. We planted hibiscus, and lemon grass, and something that produces pink flowers that taste like lemons, but whose name I can’t recall.

Sometimes we snack while we work. We take long coffee breaks, and eat fresh fruits including a type of banana with a peel that looks ugly and a little rotten, but contains fruit so sweet its nickname is ice cream banana. We amused ourselves while working by making puns that rhymed with the names of the foods we were planting, and talking about life before the farm because no one seems to know what happens after.

“What kind of tuber smells bad?” “Feet potatoes!”

“I originally planned to leave this March after my friend’s wedding on Oahu, but instead I booked my flight roundtrip, Maui to Oahu and back.”

“What kind of tuber is ideal for sitting?” “Seat potatoes!”

“We’re thinking we’ll leave in June because we want to do some traveling, maybe Seattle, maybe Europe. But then again, I originally thought I was leaving in December.”

“What kind of tuber makes the healthiest bread?” “Whole wheat potatoes!”

Muddy boots, sore legs, greasy hair. I don’t spend everyday farming, but I’m starting to better appreciate the days that I do.

(This blog isn’t really going to turn into a gardening blog, but I do like to experiment with my posts — both what I write about and how I write it. This blog is still young and finding its voice, so, if you’re so inclined, let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post or if you prefer my more advice-based or photo-heavy posts.)

Emma Holliday is well-traveled. After 5 years in Boston, she and her husband upended their lives to move to Berlin where she is currently writing a (funny) book about travel and grief and attempting to learn German.

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  • Redterrain

    I just read the past caption about feedback, and I can relate to you! I often wonder if writing the words is even really nessicary. I get likes, but not much commentary. Which leads me to believe that not many are actually reading, and are merely just looking at photos. Which admittedly is something that I also do. I enjoyed reading your story on this particular post, and it’s intrigued me to read more!

    • opportunemma

      I’ve definitely scrolled through text in favor of photos too. I think we all do it sometimes, but writing is a skill I’m trying to improve, and feedback is an important part of that process. So thanks very much for the comment and I’ll try to keep writing posts like this one.

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