Brussels Sprouts in the Rain – Fall Week #3 – 11/11/20
Three cold hardy crops remain in the field: Brussels Sprouts, tatsoi, and kale. As we didn’t get to the Brussels yesterday, we found ourselves harvesting them today in the rain.
Cold rain has a way of quieting field chatter. With the rain tat a tatting on the leathery Brussel leaves and own rain hoods pulled up, it can be hard to hear one another. And of course, the natural human reaction is to be a bit quieter when doing something uncomfortable.
The absence of field chatter led to a noticing of sounds. I listened to them intently while I harvested, and then to try and cheer the dreary mood of my cold-fingered crew, I asked them how they would describe the sounds of our work.
Mercedes, who is notorious for complaining about farm work despite the fact she actually deeply loves it, immediately quipped, “You mean like the sound of my soul leaving my body?”
We laughed and then all started listening together.
Light rain falling on thick leaves sounds a lot like rain drops on a tent.
When approaching a plant to harvest, the harvester bends over the top of the plant and takes one arm to bend the large leaves out of the way in order to access the sprouts on the stem. In the rain, you can hear the small puddles of water fall off the leaves and drip onto the brown earth, and the loud rustle of thick leaves moving against one another. Sometimes a leaf snaps and cracks off in this process.
Next the harvester grabs onto a handful of sprouts and starts ripping them off in a downward motion. This makes two types of sounds together… the crisp crack of breaking the sprout off and the squeaking that occurs as the sprouts rub together in our hands. We likened it to the sound of snapping and squeaking when someone makes a balloon animal.
The harvester then tosses the handful of sprouts in a black veggie bin. If the bin is empty, the plunking sound it makes is like the sound of dice being rolled on a game board. With five of us out there, starting off with empty bins, for the first few minutes it’s only the sound of dice being thrown. Then as our bins begin to fill up, the sound gets quieter and dulled so that by the time our bins are halfway full, the sound of tossing the sprouts in is barely audible.
Other sounds include the swish swish of rain paints as the insides of our legs rub together as we walk.
The sound of your own breath echoing in your rain hood.
The gentler sound of rain hitting the soft soil around as compared to its hitting the tough Brussels leaves.
The squish of water as our boots step in the wet mud.
Enjoy your Brussels!