Michigan Heart

I didn’t have time to be here last fall. Last fall, I came home and had to be at school in less than 24 hours.

I’m just trying to get through today, today revolving around an all-liquid diet in preparation for tomorrow’s surgery. My energy level is zip, and I’m all whee-ooo-wheee-ooo-whee-ooo, tracing circles in the air to indicate loopiness. Missy and Ryan would understand. And so, I’m lying here watching videos of Pat Ives on the guitar, leading the rest of us in singing Wagon Wheel in the cafe.

It can’t be helped, but I’m not enjoying the just-came-back-from-Narnia feeling that I didn’t have time to feel last year. This probably isn’t going to make it better – it will probably make it worse, if anything – but I really ought to blog about my last weeks at Pond Hill.

The night after that last blog post, we had a Farm to Table dinner with the same menu as the one two days before. Every evening after that was spent doing something with someone. The crew really went out of their way to humor my wish to spend every possible moment of after-work free time bonding.

8/1: We must have been a sight, crowded around the TV in the upstairs living room, watching Back to the Future. Ryan and Alise were on the couch, Kelly and I were on the heater, Katie and Ben and Missy were on chairs and bar stools. Missy had made egg rolls, and a number of us had contributed probably something near or beyond $100 worth of booze. Alien brain hemorrhages were attempted, but we a) didn’t have shot glasses, so we had to make do with dixie cups, and we b) didn’t have grenadine. Shame, shame, I forgot to get grenadine. Oh well. Pat Ives came over, and we had a lovely musical bonfire, during which Ryan and the djambe completely tore through the seat of the one chair and yet managed to remain sitting upright…

8/2: Missy wrote “Missy was here” on the table at the intern cabin. Ryan, Missy, Alise and I watched Braveheart after dinner, and then did some stargazing. I can’t do justice to the latter. I’ve never been able to see stars anywhere like I’ve seen them at Pond Hill.

8/3: Thomas Keller came to Pond Hill Farm. It was bizarre… bizarrely awesome!!! Missy had her journal signed and Josie and I were fortunate to have pictures with him. I’ve never seen Scott geek out like that about anything. Just to see Scott geek out was hilariously delightful in and of itself. Of course, aside from Scott, Missy, Josie and myself, nobody on the farm had any concept of what was going on. Scott tried to tell KK and Kelly and was frustrated by their lack of reaction. So he said to come with him and watch him tell me. I was on the line two days before, and Scott called me outside. Kelly took me by the hand and said that I was fired. LOL. Anyway, they got me outside, and then Scott told me, and I gave him exactly the reaction he was hoping for Kelly to see. They were saying that they should have recorded it. Kelly thought I was going to cry. Anyway, when he was actually at the farm, Scott was being such a stalker. I was trying to act normal and work on prep list stuff when Scott called me to the tasting room and told me to bring my camera. “‘Talk’ to Benjamin and take pictures,” he instructed me. “What?!” “Or no, better yet, come ‘talk’ to me. Right here is great!” So, yes, we have stalker pictures of Thomas Keller at Pond Hill Farm. Then Scott actually asked if we could have candid pics of him enjoying the farm, so it was all ok in the end, but it was pretty funny receiving how-to-take-stalker-pic instructions from Scott.


Facebook Status Update: oh. my. gosh. just had my picture taken with thomas keller. unreal.

That night, Missy, Kelly, Alise and I went to Mitchell St. Pub for one last ladies’ night out. Ryan texted us to get s’more stuff on the way back, but we kind of forgot… anyway, the guys had a bonfire going when we got back, and although Ryan was disappointed in us for forgetting s’more stuff, we pacified him with ice cream.

8/4: Missy and Brandon and I went on a hayride. It was my first and only hayride of the season, and Brandon hadn’t been on a hayride at Pond Hill in years. It was a longer night in the kitchen, and people started coming in and asking me if I’d be coming to my own party. Then Ryan, whose off day it was, conspired with Missy to kick me out and make me go to my party while they finished cleaning up. That is, Missy picked me up and carried me out the door and she and Ryan effectively blocked all entrances to the kitchen. Ben, Missy and I were called upon to make our goodbye speeches during dinner, and then we headed over to the cafe for a group picture.

Staff 2013

The group picture was followed by a lovely little concert. Pat Ives had his guitar and Ryan had all of his percussion stuffs. I LOVE it when we sing Mumford =) When we got back to the cabin, Ryan and Alise and I did some more stargazing and chit-chatting before going to bed.

8/5: This was the day that the Chicken Cordon Ryan was created… Chicken breast; butterflied; into which was placed ham that was flashed on the flattop, bacon, and swiss cheese; doused in Balsamic Farmhouse vinaigrette; placed on a toasted brioche bun with heirloom tomatoes and basil coulis. And then after work, I spent a few hours in the cafe on my laptop, accompanied by Ryan and Benjamin.

8/6: PROM!


It had originally been planned for the 3rd, but due to a number of people not being able to make it, the 6th was settled on as a perfect time when nobody had any good reason to be missing.

8/7: We had a perfectly lovely wine dinner. I ate WELL that night. And the next morning. Nothing really beats medium rare lamb…


8/8: We were ridiculously laidback prepping for service that morning, so I made Ryan sit down and attempted to recreate the dinner for him, although what I served him was completely out of order. I first served him the wonton cups with nutella/goat cheese filling, bacon caramel and maldon sea salt. Then we went with the caprese salad, which was mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, basil, leek coulis, and balsamic reduction. And then finally I served him lamb with whatever crazy herb oil Scott had made for it, which was so good. Pat Ives got the same, except all one one plate, and Chad wanted the caprese as his side for lunch, though I also gave him last bites when he came back to get a drink refill. That afternoon, we played our Big Yellow Zucchini prank on Jimmy and filled his boat with big yellow zucchini… 


Aaand of course, Chad did his little vine on that. Missy and Alise had promised that dinner would be ready when we got back, and we had the best bonfire barbeque ever. They had used all of Sharon’s Ais-safe marinades and sauces on potatoes, tomatoes, chicken, shrimp, zucchini, tomatoes… It was incredible. The tomatoes were the best part. Pat Ives brought his guitar and we had one last jamm session.

8/9: Friday was the Chef’s Table dinner, and the absolute best part about it was bouncing while the dessert course was being plated and eating my fill of smoked goat right out of the smoker by the light of Ryan’s phone.  It was a fifteen-hour shift, and my last day in the kitchen.

Facebook Status Update: “just think about ponies. EXPLODING. and everything will be alright. you can tell your little brother that if you’re ever worried about him.”

8/10: Island Shenanigans! with Jill and Chad. Legit shenanigans. I can officially cross off becoming highly inebriated in a very short amount of time and regurgitating as a result from my first-time-for-everything list. It wasn’t as if we were on a time crunch, either… We took the 6pm ferry on the way there and took the midnight ferry back. But that’s what happens when you bring Pond Hill Spritzer and tell Ais it’s her last day on the island and therefore she’s not allowed to drive either there or back. Well, good times. And pretty hilarious all around.

8/11: One last Hurrah at Legs… Our party numbered twelve: Josie, Danny, Missy, Kelly, Kyle, Kelsey, Alise, Jill, Pat Ives, Ryan, Benjamin, and myself. We had to wait an hour for a table, but it was totally worth it. I had Bigos and the men surrounding me – Pat Ives, Ryan, Benjamin, and Danny – were happy to take my dumplings.

8/12: We left after morning meeting, but I got the best hugs from everyone, everyone signed Trikky, and I had the loveliest goodbye letter from Kelly.

Michigan Summer v 3.0 will commence in… roughly 9 months.

Only it won’t just be for the summer this time. This time, it will be for the season =)

The crew was laughing because I hadn’t even left yet, and I was already talking about how great next year was going to be.

It’s incredible to have found such a place in MI, where I know that I am healthy and growing, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I cannot begin to express my excitement for next year. I know I’ll have the same reservations about the new crew as I did this year, but there will be veterans to come home to, and Jimmy and Marci do such an incredible job picking the right people to join us every year. It’s going to be amazing, because Pond Hill Farm is always Amazing.

~ if home is where the heart is then my home is where you are, but it’s getting oh so hard to spend these days without my heart ~


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