Tucked in a small northwest corner where the city evaporates into rolling meadows, there lies a land of abundance. A local musician’s melody mingles with the smell of pizza, kettle corn, and chicken tikka masala in the air. People, chickens, and the occasional dog saunter on the crooked path, past the retired pick-up truck filled with squash, over to the muddy clearing where the ceremony is about to start. They mill about, chatting over the local paintings, sculptures, and various wares filling a misty greenhouse nearby.
What is going on here? What brings this peculiar patchwork together? The lady at the entrance warmly acquaints us, “Welcome to Squash Blossom Farm! Didja get your tickets for the Cow Puja and Farm Fair online?” We had indeed, but she smiles and waves us on as I fumble to open Passbook on my phone. When we had seen that this local farm was honoring their cows with a traditional Indian Puja blessing ceremony, we were intrigued. As we stroll through the garden-bounded entrance, the charm of this place hits us like a bushel and a peck.
“Popcorn!” yells Aurora (or maybe it was Katie), eyeing the sweet kernels being stirred in a cauldron of a kettle. Then we float, nose-first, across the way, guided by the sweet smell of chicken tikka masala.
“Would you like to try some of our apples?” offers a kind-eyed woman at the next cart, as she pares off a piece for each of us. I check my phone. Yep, still 2016. “Try some jam too! It’s made with organic cane sugar,” she adds. Yes, definitely 2016.
Still chewing our medley of delectables, we join the masses gathered around the muddy clearing. The cows look smashing, painted patterns on their fur and flower wreaths around their necks. People take turns feeding them vegetable treats from a silver platter. Liam declines altogether, but Aurora half-feeds, half-tosses a Swiss chard leaf to the beastly bovine, giggling nervously.
“Those cows were so good at eating!” she laughs.
We retire to blanket-covered hay bales to eat some farm-grown veggie pizza. The musician onstage casually strums away. Liam sings along, “Whiskey river, don’t run dry,” while Aurora plays a mean flute with her juice box. I sit there and ruminate, admiring the eclectic crowd this event has assembled, recounting the ridiculous number of food items we’ve consumed, and wondering whether or not I am the father of Willie Nelson and a flower child.
We each grab one more mouthful of miscellaneous morsels, and I digest the scene around us. Here in a rural Minnesota field, a mélange of cultures is happily stewing. The “great American melting pot” suddenly seems a bit less hackneyed (though I refrain from uttering the phrase, afraid the local talent might segue into a Schoolhouse Rock chorus). I feel a twinge of pride in my gut, though there’s not much room left in there. We’ll certainly work up an appetite for the social stew simmering here again soon. See you at Squash Blossom Farm next time!