Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Skid Marks

Frank McCourt died.

Dawn asks if I listened to the news. "No, why?" "Frank McCourt died." I ask the cause of his death. "Melanoma," she says, and other things. He was 79. I was hoping for a sequel to Teacher Man, Tis and Angela's Ashes. Darn. Darn. Darn.

Pucci jumps on the kitchen table. There are a dozen, clean pint jars covered with a dish towel waiting for caps. His paw snags the dish towel causing a clatter of glass jars rattling on the table. He jumps, startled by the noise. The Pooch isn't a fraidy cat. I've noticed that as he spends more time outdoors, he's more alert. He pesters to go out this morning. From 5 am until we get up, he meows and jumps on the bed. At 7:45 he jumps on the deck railing in front of the kitchen window. The window is a new, thermo-pane. Nights have been cool. Dawn says 37 degrees near Cashton. I scoff. The window is closed. I can't hear his cry as he peers in the kitchen. His mouth opens as if he's saying "wow", peeks some more and then, more "wow". I open the deck door for him.

While Dawn is clattering upstairs getting ready for work, I slip on my sandals and walk to the potato patch. Yesterday I dug up 0ne white potato, grab a red onion from the drying tent, nip a cabbage growing on the corn patch, look for an Ace green pepper and pull a medium size beet with top. All are given a bath and bagged in Wal-Mart plastic recycled and carted off to the liberry. Helen Jane looks up from the counter as I walk in. She smiles,"You brought me a cabbage." On Friday, desperate for something to read I borrow a Billie Letts sequel and promise cabbage on Monday. She's 80ish, but lately is looking her age. If I were a writer I'd say she looks drawn. She hands me a copy of Coop by Michael Perry. She's my library angel. I couldn't live here without her. There's a story about her life waiting for a good writer.

At the front of the potato patch, I remember feeling a bunch of nubs in the soil. I don't disturb the nubs because the tops of the Kennebec's are still green and healthy. I dose them for an hour with a revolving sprinkler set sideways on a ladder that sprays fine drops in the air over the potatoes. This front portion is bone dry. Carefully I stab with a trowel and remove two fine, white specimens and wash them under cold water. While a cast iron pot heats up, I slice the clean spuds with my red Kitchen Aide julienne slicer into hash browns. Next to the stove, I previously placed a pint container of pure, rendered lard from the Amish.

I'm weary of the Pomace oil I cook everything and anything. I spoon a healthy dollop of lard into the iron fry pan, grind some fresh pepper over the potatoes, sprinkle some Kosher salt and drop them in the pan. Sizzle...

Over the weekend we host the eldest daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. Saturday is non-stop food prep. Pickled beets, sauerkraut, sugar snap peas, potatoes, chickens from the Amish and more. Sunday morning is reserved for sausage. Everyone is off kilter. E.D.(eldest daughter) isn't used to the extra firm mattress in the east bedroom. Granddaughter is up early. The cat looks for shelter from a three, going on four "dynamo." Our normal Amish bedtime becomes a late night with Netflix. By Sunday morning, I've gone from Busch NA beer to drinking New Glarus specialty beers as we slide ground pork and spices into fresh casings. The beer accompanies the required tasting session of our new batch of wurst. After they leave with their car crammed full of country goodness, I ride the mower the rest of the afternoon. It's too quiet.

Two days later, I'm hoping the rain comes before I finish this epistle. The Oxford concise dictionary is open to conundrum. "Riddle involving a pun." As I work the crops, getting them ready for the canner or freezer, I'm thinking of written topics. I work twice.. First there's the harvest and associated finagling and then I work again-writing of my work. Get my drift?

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