This fall our friends Step and Sandy visited from Vermont. It was Sandy’s birthday, and her foremost wish was to see the cranberry harvest. It was a little early in the season, but we called around and found out that there was picking going on at Flax Pond Farm in Carver. Dot and Jack Angley are the owners of Flax Pond Farm where, in addition to the bogs, they manage a farm store in a large barn on the property. The shop features locally made cranberry products (including our soaps) and a museum-like collection of antique cranberry paraphernalia. It was a perfect destination for a splendid fall day.

We got to know Jack and Dot during the 20 years we lived in Carver before moving to the Cape. They are the kind of smart, civic-minded folks that any small town is fortunate to have. Jack serves as the Chairman of the Carver Board of Selectmen and he has played piano at PJ’s Country House in Scituate every Wednesday night for the past 25 years. Dot organizes the Arts in the Bog festival at the farm every October, which brings the community together for a day of art, music and fun.

Many of the cranberry growers in Carver are the third or fouth generation to farm their land. Their business is earthbound and traditional, but also affected by changes in technology and the global marketplace. These changes can make for a wild ride. Over the last few decades, the market for cranberries has ridden up and down like a roller coaster, through boom-times and bust. In spite of the whiplash, most of the growers have hung on. It’s what they’re good at, and they enjoy the challenge and the outdoor life.

I’ve been thinking about these tenacious growers during the current economic crisis. We’re all experiencing a bit of whiplash these days. When I get a headache hearing about collateralized debt obligations and other intangible things, I take comfort in thinking about people in our region who still make a living growing real things from the earth, sun, and water. None of us can escape the effects of the global economy, but we can cherish things that are local and real. These elements of our community will be even more important to us as we hang on for the ride ahead.