Bon Iver has prepared a dinner with ingredients from our farm and invited all of our friends. I hang Mexican lanterns from the old sugar hawthorn and gather a miscellany of chairs and benches, supplementing with hay bales that smell fresh.
Our guests arrive and we serve them a tart tea drink and Bon Iver’s cherry bourbon. The children amuse themselves with a pile of instruments Bon Iver has left on a horse blanket, using them primarily to swat noisily at the dog. We give a tour of the farm, showing our guests the single late-summer calf, whose leg will never heal but whose sweet character saved him. Our hors d’oeuvres consist of raspberries we invite them to pick.
When we sit, Bon Iver gives a speech. He embarrasses me, thanking me in front of everyone for ‘helping him learn what a heartbeat should feel like’. I blush and drink too much boysenberry wine.
Then he explains the meal: a pig we’d come to know and who died nobly, served ‘nose to tail’: maple cured ham and smoked pork belly, jellied feet, thick fried head cheese and crispy ears. The flavors are rich and odd and wonderful, and we stuff ourselves with the pig and with okra, salad, eggplant and heavy brown bread.
I bring out my warm peaches and pound cake along with the stars, and Bon Iver plays his guitar and sings, and everyone is silent, in awe of him as I always am, because his talent, singly, is to create experiences that germinate and grow an exclusive and startling joy.