Saturday, August 04, 2012

I remember the days

Empty beaver pond, dory lawn art, and garden--basil, peas, tomatoes, and turnip barely visible
Missing my grandparents as we head into August. I'm so glad K. had the opportunity to eat dinner at their house in their last year there, to see the breezeway and the garden, to taste my grandmother's food. I know I've written about it before, but August is when it comes back to me—the zucchini bread, the sliced tomatoes, the swiss chard. Especially because I cut my first swiss chard today.

Ridiculous, I know. We could have been eating it a month ago. A friend stopped by this afternoon, a fellow farmer who mainly farms his wood lot, selling what wood he culls in excess of what his family needs, after cutting it himself. Not clear cutting, as the neighbor is doing. I imagine doing the same, trekking out to chainsaw into hunks the trees that have fallen or will soon, dragging out the logs with my team of Belgians. But that'll have to wait until I figure out how to eat the vegetables in my garden.

I mention it, though, because he said what he learned from an old potato farmer: there's no such thing as 100 percent.

Isn't that great? How many times do we hear that on the news—at least I gave it 100 percent. But it's not true. None of us can give that much. None of us have that much to give. We all fail, all the time, we all fall short, we all stumble.

Especially in this business of getting things to grow. The two of us could eat chard every meal, three meals a day, until the frost, and the leaves would just grow back in time for us to make the cycle again. You doubt it, but it's true. Last year we cut them down to their nubbins before the first hard frost to blanch and freeze—frozen chard is a spectacular addition to spaghetti sauce during the winter—and a week later, after it warmed up a bit, the nubs were putting out new tender green leaves. So eating it all is an endless, impossible task.

My grandparents taught me not to waste—not money, not time, not food. But I'm realizing implicit in the enterprise of growing is sacrificing some of the harvest to the whims of fate, whether it's my own laziness or beetles or frost or rot. Moths and rust destroy here. It's a relief, though. When I give up doing justice to the massive quantities of vegetables out in the lawn right now, when I just accept that many of them will be lost, I can enjoy the five leaves of chard I snipped this morning and scrambled into my eggs.

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