Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hannah Fries: Fresh Start

As we creep up on June, it’s hard not to notice that May has been an incredibly full month around here. Contributing to that sense of fullness is the happy arrival of Project Editor Hannah Fries. Hannah came to us from Orion magazine, where she served as associate editor and poetry editor, and in her few short weeks at Storey, she’s jumped in with both feet. In addition to her editorial work, she’s submitted pictures for May Bloom Day, volunteered to grow epic tomatoes, and now shares her very first blog post for Inside Storey. As you’ll see, she fits right in. Welcome aboard, Hannah! We’re thrilled to have you here.

Back in March, when I was interviewing for a new job at Storey Publishing, the long winter was still going strong. The snowpack had absorbed a little rain and then frozen solid as temperatures plummeted yet again, turning the yard into an ice rink. But there were hints that spring would come eventually, mostly in the form of sap buckets hanging from our sugar maples — that is, from the few trees that our landlord and neighbor hadn’t tapped as part of his much larger operation that rendered the woods around us a jumbled web of sap lines. On sunny days when the temperature crept toward 40 degrees, as soon as I got home from work I’d jump out of the car and run to one of our buckets and listen for the thrilling drip-drop-drip of sap on galvanized metal.

Hannah’s self-proclaimed “very B-grade” maple syrup 

So yes, I’m the new kid in town at Storey. It was May 12 by the time my first day rolled around —daffodils were still out, purple trillium were nodding in the woods, and tulips were finally opening their wide, red mouths. The short sugaring season had long passed, leaving us a few jars of very B-grade syrup. To me, starting a new job just as everything came into bloom, the world seemed new, promising, full of life. My first day as an editor at Storey did not dissuade me. In short order, I was introduced to the editors’ stash of popsicles in the freezer, as well as the “Magic milk” in the fridge — surplus from another editor’s cow (whose name is Magic, of course). “There’s a lot of food involved with working here,” someone told me, which is appropriate, I suppose, since food is so deeply connected to many of the books Storey publishes, whether they are about farming or gardening, preserving or cooking or foraging. This is definitely okay with me.

Hannah’s garden and home to her soon-to-be epic tomatoes

Sure enough, before I left the office that day, I had two tomato starts in hand to plant in my own garden — varieties from the forthcoming book Epic Tomatoes. They were being spread around just in case they were needed for photographs when the hopefully “epic” tomatoes came to fruit. I finally planted them in the ground just yesterday, crossing my fingers that the coldest nights were behind us. This is one thing I’m loving so far about my new job — not only the chance to edit fascinating books and learn so much in the process, but also the opportunity to hear about and share the projects that my co-workers and all our authors are engaged in. With any luck, their skill will rub off on my own gardening and sugaring and fermenting attempts. In the meantime, it looks like I’ll be eating well: Pickled asparagus? Rhubarb crisp? Yes, please.

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