www.ediblemontereybay.com 29 “I don’t wear gloves when I work with the bees because I wouldn’t be able to feel them and likely they’d get killed. I need to be delicate with the bees, sensitive to their needs. “I look closely at other women’s hands,” Lynne tells me. “First, they’re a sign of femininity and, second, a symbol of strength. They’re not only infinite doers, but also takers. Hands can animate or deflate, carry the weight of a baby or that of the world.” She ducks into the hen house and returns, handing me an egg warm from the nest, which becomes tomorrow’s breakfast. Then I’m off, while Lynne continues the work of her farm, singing to the animals as she goes. TOM COKE: Coke Farm At 85, Tom Coke still farms his 12 acres. He says, “I’m not planning on retiring; this is my life.” A handsome, angular, white-haired man who often wears denim overalls, Tom Coke thinks of himself as taciturn, but I tell him he’s too warm a person for that. Even his big knobby hands are welcoming. He points the way up the stairs and opens the door for me into his widewindowed home that overlooks the green expanse of eucalyptus. He and his wife Laurie built this house and shared it for many years. For a little while, though, Laurie’s failing memory has required the care of a skilled nursing facility. Before lunch, we get to the business of hands. “My hands used to do what I told them to,” Tom tells me, “but now, not so much.” Holding his hands in front of him, he examines them before continuing, “I don’t find them outstanding in any way, but if character comes from nicks and crannies, then maybe so. “The things I perform with my hands are essential—on a small farm you do everything. My hands prune trees, wash dishes, make my dinner. I’d be lost without them even though I put them at risk when I shouldn’t. They get chapped and the skin splits, and then I have to pay attention. My body, in general, has survived with very little care and served me well. “I hoe, prune trees, cut down large trees—but don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do that. Though I’m not so good at it, I do some welding and the things tend to stay together. I do plumbing, irrigation, electrical—anything that needs to be done. Some things I can’t do anymore. In the past there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t try.” When I ask what tender things he does with his hands, he hesitates before answering. “Anymore? Not much,” he says, staring off into the distance.
edible Monterey Bay Summer 2015
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