Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dirty Feet

This weekend was the Washington County Cheese Tour. It is my FAVORITE weekend of the year! Better than Christmas. Five of the awesomest cheesemaking farms along the NY/VT border open their gates to the public. And O Lord. The cheese. The Goats. The Everything. 

First on the stop, Sweet Spring Farm, can only be described as Goat Disney Land. Walking up you see the stinky billy goats on your left, and then all the teeny, tiny, sweet as sugar kids. My knee got tongued by the most adorable young goat. (Shout out to Lush—bathe in Marizbain bubble bar, baby goats will lick your knee).
Kisses were given to the Mom-goats, cheeses were tasted (and purchased), the cave was peeped upon, and we trekked back out to the car. Feet were checked for goat droppings before entering the very clean vehicle.

There are middle things. Then the last stop, 3 Corner Hill Farm. If Sweet Hill Farm was Goat Disney Land, 3 Corner Hill Farm is Sheep and Lamb Disney Land. Only you have to wash your shoes before you enter. Meaning, one could unknowingly be bringing horrible parasites, diseases or other very bad things from Goat Disney Land to Sheep Disney Land. Not cool, man. Not cool. 

My only real associations with the importance of shoe-foot-washing comes from The Odyssey, and Mary Magdalene.

The Odyssey. This is my truncated version of what matters: In the Odyssey, the hero returns home in disguise, and is found out when Eurycleia washes his feet. Foot washing equals sign of respect, means of uncovering the truth and how all will be righted in Ithaca.

Mary Magdalene. Maundry, the Judeo-Christian practice of foot-washing, is a practice of blessing. The Mary Magdalene of art history class washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair after he cured her of evil spirits. Foot washing equals a very serious thank you note. 

Whatever god there may be, strike me dead if you hear this rhetorical question in your head in Sarah Jessica Parker’s voice a la “Sex In The City laptop musings.” I can’t help but wonder if the whole practice of foot washing, from back in the day, wasn’t only religious, but a form of biosecurity?

Humans before *right now* might not have fully grasped the importance of hygiene and whatnot. But did farmers know that it was important to keep dangerous parasites, weed seeds and other unwanteds out of their soil? 

Biosecurity takes many forms. Washing your shoes before entering an organic farm helps protect the animals from parasites and diseases that you may have, unknowingly, been carrying around in the treads of your Steve Maddens, Keens, or otherwise sensible footwear. 

Might early representations of foot washing not only have been about blessing the person getting their mini-pedicures, but also about blessing the land? These are questions I don’t know the answer to. Nevertheless, I wonder if something about the horticultural role of foot washing in earlier times was lost along with other bits of wisdom.

(this is me cheating on my dog with a sweet goat.)

Sweet Spring Farm:

3 Corner Farm:

Lush Marzibain:

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