"Can you tell that it's over thirty degrees?"
As I awkwardly follow him with my camera, Rik asks me if I'm capturing the August heat outside. I laughed and said of course, it'll be so obvious! I wonder though, can you really tell? Without the obvious sweat or blurry heat haze, things can turn ambiguous. Nevertheless, there is a hint at the top of the frame of the first shot: a thread of hemp fiber fluttering in the mild wind. Outside the borders of the frame, I left my hat atop the camera, a response to its continuous complaints and warnings of imminent overheating. So there I am, running around the field or distributing compost on a new bed, hatless in spite of the scorching sun because my mechanical other half somehow hates the heat even more than I do. But we have to take care of our collaborators, human, nonhuman, and even nonliving. That's what Rik and my camera teach me on that hot day.
Rik's main collaborator this day is the broadfork, or grelinette. He truly loves using the grelinette and I enjoy watching him use it. The movement is reminiscent of a dance, a tacit back and forth – a little waltz of farmer and tool. It reminds me of an old music teacher and his even older double bass, improvising on each other more so than simply one playing the other. No object or subject. And yet this waltz isn't just between two. A third is the ground, the soil under both that gives feedback and allows them them balance each other. And this third is in itself hardly one, with its myriad worms and bacteria and fungi and many others which constitute the literal foundation upon which a healthy ecosystem grows. Tilling – overturning of the topsoil – disturbs this delicate structure. Rik and the other farmers know this, hence the grelinette, which aerates the soil of a new bed without digging into it. And so this little waltz proceeds – humans and technology and soil and fauna and plants; all in continuous revolution.
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