Saturday, a perfectly sunny day, I headed to "the farm" where the afternoon's job was to weed the student plots, abandoned over the winter, of the deep-rooted mallows that had invaded them. There were a lot of volunteers, some new, some from last year, including N, an Iranian-American, who came all last spring and summer, often with his wife, occasionally with his student-daughter. There was a Japanese man and his young son, and a group of campus students, plus M, the coordinator. 

It's like sorting beans, mindless, physical, satisfying, rote. Yank the weeds, bringing up the roots, heap them on the paths, fill a wheelbarrow and take them to the compost. Some people began loading mulch and dumping it on the paths, delineating the plots. Every now and then I'd stand up and look at what we'd done. By the end of the afternoon, most of the dozen or so plots had been weeded, forked over, seeded with a cover crop and, in some case, covered with weeds to keep the birds off. Among the weeds I'd found a few leeks and a couple of lettuces to take home for supper.

N said he was supposed to go to Iran next week for business, but his company was looking into whether that was still feasible. He has double citizenship; maybe he shouldn't risk leaving the country.