Our local food co-op, the veritable Community Mercantile, just celebrated its marvelous school garden project at West Junior High School and the person who founded the project and has given so much to our community over the last 25 years, Nancy O’Connor. When Rita York, general manager of the Merc, asked me to do a toast, that toast turned into this poem. Nancy has inspired me for 30 years, not just about the beauty and vitality of a good carrot or ways to roast vegetables to make them irresistible. Her dedication to weaving together community, and feeding everyone in the process, has changed the lives of thousands of people in our region. She also brings to all she does enduring excellence, steady patience and humor, and expansive vision. Thank you, Nancy, and long may your flag fly and your spirit shine!
In Gratitude for Nancy
Let her near the food, and everything changes:
broccoli opens the pathway to nirvana,
beets show us new ways to glimpse the sunset,
quinoa leads the wooded path to the banquet
where everyone begins laughing without knowing why,
clinking our glasses to toast the goldness of the garden,
the kindness of the kitchen, the dream of the dining room.
Take a taste of life in gratitude for Nancy who,
dish by dish, class by class, carries all the ingredients
her car can hold to gather us together so we can see
who we are, and how we can make peace on the plate.
Listen to her speak through what she grows and cooks,
teaches and mentors, about the marvel of who we can be,
one meal at a time, our bodies chiming in time
with what the earth offers, how we can put
our hands and time to good use to feed the soul
of the world we inhabit that inhabits us.