> jumping into life.

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At lunch, I choose an empty table, because I don't know anyone and I'm shy. A man sits next to me. He's older, in Wranglers and a pearlsnap shirt with a bandana around his neck. His nametag tells me what I've already guessed: rancher. He closes his eyes with his hands resting on either side of his plate, and after a moment he crosses himself.

He wants to know why I'm a vegetarian; I tell him because I don't want to eat anything I haven't killed myself, or at least know I could. He tells me a story about his first 4-H calf, and how he bottle-fed it and taught it to haul fenceposts for him, and that when it came time for slaughter, his mama told him he had to go to the slaughterhouse and see how it was done. "I've never met anybody else who said something like that, not in forty-five years," he says. I think I hear approval in his voice. When we talk about CSA, he says he thinks it'd be even better if all the members owned part of the farm. We discuss lemon-merengue pie techniques. The extension agent on my other side chimes in, and we all agree that the pie they served us is too yellow to be made of actual lemons. Across the table, a man from Albuquerque wants to know if they teach us real farming at my school, or just the technical stuff; I tell him we figure we can get paid to learn how to weed, and our tuition is better spent on the technical stuff - nonetheless, I assure him, I know how to lay irrigation, and how to graft fruit trees, and how to plant a cover crop. I just also happen to know the chemistry behind nitrogen fixation and the politics behind water use. Later, I talk prickly-pear jelly with one of the coordinators, and the Hopi woman walking by likes cholla better. Ensues a fairly heated debate in which we conclude that Anglos tend to like prickly-pear better because it has fewer spines and seems more like fruit.

There are small organic farmers talking with state Department of Ag people; there are native farmers talking with extension agents. There was locally-raised yak for dinner. There was a half-day symposium on farm-to-school, with district foodservice managers, producers, USDA agents, Slow Food representatives, food justice activists, native organizations, and students like me trying to figure out how to turn two vulnerable communities - small farmers and kids - into allies.

When we explained to my friend's grandma what our conference was about, she said, "Well, that sounds radical." And it is - the idea that local food should be eaten locally, that local economies and populations would benefit from a secure food supply, that knowing where and how and who your food comes from could or even should be important, not to mention the revolutionary idea that farmers are people - it flies straight in the face of conventional trends. It is radical. And I was the youngest person there.

At the end of one session, an old farmer in overalls stops me like a scene out of a movie: "I'm sure glad to see some kids here," he says. "Y'all are gonna inherit this earth, after all."

I don't know that I could easily list all the reasons that this post brought tears to my eyes. I can, however, identify the overarching feeling that I had while reading this: that Deep Springs would have been a good fit for you, and you for it.

If it was Kat herself gonna inherit the Earth, I'd feel a lot more relaxed abut life.

I just went back and looked at the Deep Springs website; it still sends a pang through me. Stupid chromosomes.

And Chris, I told you, I've got it all taken care of. No worries, remember?

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