Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Think Globally, Eat Locally

It's three and a half weeks until the end of the school year, a hardly insignificant time period when one teaches and lives at a prep school. As graduation nears the pomp and circumstance grows to a feverish pitch, cubing overandabove the usual bustle of the ordinary 70-hour residential workweek. To do lists get longer each day; weekends and evenings fill like Mondays. To turn a phrase presidential, the pie grows higher -- only this pie isn't the fat economic goodie Bush envisions, it's the horrible, horrible soylent green kind, all sticky with people and workplace stress.

Mostly, we've been eating in the dining hall, both to save money and because the meetings and tutoring sessions which fill our evenings are always planned around dining hall hours -- a necessity, most students having neither the wherewithal nor the inclination to procure their own food. But tonight we found ourselves uncommonly free by 4:00, wallets still mostly flush from the sale of the hardly respectable, sadly uninspectable bed-in-the-back camper van and the arrival of a startlingly large check from the IRS. Partially a celebration of free time in the midst of chaos and mandates, and partially a desperate attempt to flee the pace-of-life for a few, we ended up with the baby at The People's Pint, a local microbrewpub.

Although downtown Greenfield, home of "The Pint," isn't exactly a sprawling mecca of health conscious neohippies, its downtown area, centered around a small intersection park complete with cannon and christmas creche, has a nice cozy feel to it; The Pint is joined on the street by a Cooperative grocery store, a new funkycouch cafe, a verysolid record-and-CD store and a huge clothing-and-crystal store with the best in hemp and valour, and this local hangout fits right in. Oak and open, counterculture trancejazz emanates from above the fastmoving ceiling fans. A bright BreadandPuppet paper mache sun grins cheekily from the far wall, and two smaller goatish purple beasts leer at you over the bar.

Ultimately, The Peoples Pint is what would happen if a brewpub grew up around a farmer's market. The food is fresh and local, what the best of bar food must have been like in an older utopian gourmet's vision: simple handmade sausages stuffed in localcheese quesadillas, fat burritos with real grilled sirloin, pulled pork sandwiches in season. Pickled eggs and a rough bread and coarse cheese platter are available at the bar, along with peanuts boiled in their now-dusty-grey shells. The menu is written in stylized chalk on a series of chalkboards that cover the back wall of the ample bar.

And the beers! Lined up on the bar waiting for the waitresses they look like an earth-toned rainbow, the sun shining through them from behind as it sets. Their descriptions use colorful adjectives only the true beerpub fanatic truly understands: chocolate, hoppy, wit. For fifty cents you can get a cherry in your beer, an intriguing novelty I've yet to try. I had something amber tonight, rich and malty with a hint of bitter IPA bite to it; I cannot remember its name, but I'll always remember its glow.

We left reluctantly, Willow's no-sauce ziti and plain grilled chicken in a take-out box for a morning stroller snack. In three and a half weeks we'll have these wide open spaces practically all to ourselves, save for our fellow resident faculty, sparse and reclusive families and bachelors at the ends of their own finally-empty dormitories. We'll have fried chicken and supermarket potato salad and lemonade picnics on the shaded lawn, under the maple tree; maybe this year we'll get a real gas grill, and sit on a blanket outside with the dog and the cat and the baby blowing soap bubbles at each other. Here's a pic our school webmaster Craig took of us on the lawn last week on a warm day, dreaming of summer to come.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM |

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