Monday, July 15, 2013

Nicole Arpin Essay - A Guest Post

This guest post is what Nicole Arpin wrote as a college entrance essay, in answer to the question "Write about a memorable meal". Nicole was a graduating senior in the class of 2013. She worked with our family on our farm for 5 years and attended Schaffer Academy with our children. We enjoyed having her as a part of our extended farm family.  She is an excellent student, hard worker, and role model for other young women. One of Nicole's interests is writing. 

I bent over in a field of tomatoes, my knees dusty with black Minnesota dirt.  Turning my head in the general direction of my coworkers, I hollered, “What time is it?” “One thirty!” they shouted back. “Come on in for lunch!”   As we trudged up the well-worn hill toward the house, someone asked, “So, what’s on the menu today?” “Subs, of course,” was the bemused reply.  “What else?”

Every Friday afternoon, all workers on this small, organic vegetable farm took a much-needed physical rest from our hard labor.  We flung off our mud-caked shoes and scuffled into the narrow kitchen, guzzling down cold water.  The farmer’s wife darted around us, preparing bread, meat, and condiments. The farmer, his family, and the hired workers squeezed around the kitchen table. Girls bemoaned the dirt under their cracked fingernails as we grasped hands for prayer.  Guys rolled their eyes at our vanity.  The farmer thanked God for the food, our safety and our health.
The next few moments were of unparalleled chaos.  Arms crossed as grubby hands reached for the cheese, the carrots, the mayo, the cutting board. “Could you pass the butter?” “Do we have any lemonade?”  “Aren’t these the strawberries we picked yesterday?” 
My hungry stomach had twisted in the fields all morning, aching for sustenance.  It craved the relief that would come in the form of a sandwich heaped with ham, turkey, pepper jack cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.   The spread was modest; no elaborate table settings or dishes adorned the table.   The simplicity of the meal was fitting for the raw nature of our hunger.  Rich foods would have been scarfed down as quickly, but would have been entirely unappreciated.  Our bodies only wanted basic relief from their pain. 
My mind also eagerly anticipated lunchtime.  It did not yearn for relief, but instead for exercise. The lonely hours spent weeding a single row of beans led to valuable introspection, but not to great conversation.  Once our bellies were satisfied at the lunch table, our minds whirred back to life.  “Have you gotten a copy of that book by N.D. Wilson yet? I love his descriptive writing.”  “Are we raising the price of spaghetti squash at Market tomorrow?”  “What did you think of Pastor Steer’s sermon on Sunday? Hebrews is so intriguing.”  Conversation flowered like the zucchini plants out back, and produced far less prickly fruit.
Even today, that sub sandwich is more appealing to me than any meal in the world. The flavor of that sandwich signals my body to rest; the memory of that sandwich signals my mind to run.  I eat that sandwich on the long bus rides home from a late basketball game, and savor the familiar taste. I eat that sandwich at school, and glance around the cafeteria to find my former coworkers laughing with their friends.   I eat that sandwich sitting on the couch at home, and am thankful for the simple comfort of air conditioning.  I eat that sandwich at my job at an ice cream shop, and appreciate the close proximity of my coworkers for conversation.   That sandwich reminds me of the intense contentment that comes from the satisfied hungers of body and mind.  


  1. My niece has a definite way with words! God Bless you Nicole in all you do! Love ya U.S.

  2. The simple pleasures in life are the best! Lucky you are to see this at such a young age, wisdom has been given to you for sure.