"How about, what store do you shop at?" Everyone hesitates and looks around. I know there's going to be questions like this. Do you like red or green apples better? What time do you wake up every day? But not today, so early in the season. "Come on, how about something a little deeper?" I step in. "Just a little?" Eventually someone suggests talking about what we've learned and how we've grown over this past school year for the morning stretching circle talk, and we begin.
The youth farm crew is still not in full force today-- only the people who have graduated or finished their last day are here on this Friday. Ted's taking the day off. No other volunteers show up until the crew leaves in the afternoon. So it's just me and nine teenagers, stretching in the front lawn under a cloudy morning sky.
A couple of them are just happy to have finished another year. They're anxious to get out of high school, even though they're having a good time, and jump into the next stage of life. For most, that means staying around here, taking classes at the community college until they have a better sense of what they want to do and where they want to live. The few crew members that just graduated high school are already thinking about how to move out on their own, save up money for school, and keep cross-country road trip dreams alive.
I wonder how this job, beyond just giving them a paycheck, can prepare them. I had to remind myself, when I arrived this morning with my head fully immersed in the harvest list and weeding projects we want to tackle, that my job now involves so much more than farm work. There's so much potential to be a positive role model, compassionate leader, and knowledgeable guide for the young people that are now coming to the farm on a regular basis. I have to mind myself to snap out of my to-do list and just be with them, listen carefully, show them patiently how to do good work. How to grow further into being a good worker, team member, friend, and person.
When it's finally my turn to choose a stretch and share my answer to the day's question, I pull my calf to my chest for the butt stretch. And I tell them what's real: that this year I've been feeling like I'm in a tumbler ("like the salad spinner?!" they joke)-- jostled around a bit and not quite sure yet where's it's all leading or where I'll land. I hope it's reassuring to the nine faces around the circle with me, to see adults who don't have all the answers and still wonder where life is taking them.