Monday, June 20, 2011


Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom
And it will be a hundred times better for everyone.
Lao Tsu
Tao Te Ching

Once a year, I get out my yellowed copy of the Tao.   Mostly I'm puzzled by the message repeated in a hundred different ways. Yes, I understand that striving leads to trouble.  

Each potato plot is a study in "gorgeous".  The Kennebecs are planted in three rows down an eighty foot patch.  One row, sown on Good Friday looks exactly like the two adjacent which were planted a few weeks later.  They're bushy and fill in all bare areas in between the rows. This works well in two ways for me.  It crowds out weeds and there's a gutter beside the long row where I can step to pick adult and larval stage potato beetles.  I run the tiller down each side of the plot. With a garden rake I push loose sandy, loam up at the base of the plants for future spuds. It ensures that bare shoulders of large potatoes aren't exposed to sun.  The green shoulders are inedible and slightly poisonous.

Two other plots, the russets and left-over Pontiacs and white potatoes are slightly rangy from an excessive amount of nutrient leftover from previous years.  All are in blossom stage.

Friday night a thunderstorm, in two waves with just enough time in between boomers to drive Mandy out of her bed to shiver on the upstairs steps, dumps five inches of rain in less than two hours.  The potato vines are beaten down in scattered areas, sort of like angels walked around dumping buckets of water here and there.
Western Great Lakes Anishnabe (Ojibwa) told a traditional tale that people who were bad in this life were reincarnated as a strawberry.I'm summarizing, so give me the benefit of doubt caused by a need for brevity. One of my teachers, an elder from the St.Mary's band of Ojibwa, said that we are born into this life to bring about balance.  If one doesn't learn, they are doomed to repeat until they get it right.  For the really bad, being turned into a strawberry is the ultimate in teaching / learning. Passing through the intestines of an animal is a sure cure for egotism and pomposity.

Life in the country means driving longer distances using up expensive fuel to perform routine tasks.  Pooch, the cat is out of Frontline.  He's especially susceptible to insects, since he lives outdoor from sun-up to sun-down.  I make an unsuccessful search for Frontline that doesn't cost  forty five dollars for a three months supply.  The coupon I hoarded expired at the end of May, so Jorge, Dawn and I set off to the co-op in Westby.  Supposedly they have Frontline on sale.  Jorge gets his sale bananas at the Kwik-Trip and we stop at Premier Meats for quality ground beef.  We're forced to purchase dry cat food at Wal-Mart, the only store that carries the variety of Purina One.  After dropping off Jorge, our last stop is at the Amish farm.

Mandy races out of the car to nuzzle her mother's snout.  On Saturdays, the bulk store carries fresh baked goods.  I pick up a lopsided loaf of seven grain bread and three pounds of dark chocolate chips.  The bread is reasonably price at $1.80 and weighs upwards of two pounds. Forty quarts of boxed strawberries are crowded on a six foot folding table.  I ask if the one box separated from the group is for sale.  The youngest daughter is bouncing a two gallon jug of cream on her lap.  In a half hour it will separate into whey and butter.Mom is on a neighbor's cell phone calling strawberry customers.  Dad is behind the workshop cultivating a garden plot with a two horse hitch.  The wind is strong, pushing away the black flies.  Dad strolls up, removes his straw hat to savor the cool breeze.  The youngest son shows Dawn a magic trick with two magnets that look like hematite. He tosses them in the air which startles Dawn because of the buzzing sound they make.  The wrap around porch is a festival of colorful hanging baskets. Mandy goes in search of a chicken head to gnaw on.  Her mother likes to hide treats like this after fryers are butchered during the week.Because it is Saturday, several other daughters are inside washing their long tresses.

Our shopping spree complete, we take the lone quart of strawberries for a spinach and strawberry salad at dinner. Mandy says good by to her Mom with a muzzle nuzzle. I've got more beet greens to wash and sort.  With a wind and some sun, the grass will dry by late afternoon.  Lightning storms add nitrogen to the rainfall, giving the grass an added boost. I'll be riding the mowers.      


1 comment:

okjimm said...

Now I'm hungry.... strawberries sound awfully good right now.... with just a little fresh cream.