Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mistress of the Manor Mamie

Richard got instruction from Travis on how to use the tractor, and completed the tilling before lunch. We’re already a bit late getting in the “early crops,” and I’m leaving for Kentucky and Ohio for five days, starting Saturday. I really wanted to help get the planting done because I know a little more about gardening than Richard does, which isn’t saying a lot. But, more importantly -- unlike Richard -- I can communicate with Mamie.

Richard likes to converse in sequence, Mamie and I sort of bounce all over in and around issues until we’ve gathered whatever we’re trying to share. Mountaintop Mary calls this “going down bunny trails.” It may be more akin to chickens scratching in the dirt for some good grit. Combine Mamie’s conversation patterns with her hearing problems and Richard’s voice that he says, “doesn’t carry farther than my nose,” and communication can be decidedly difficult.

I had been telling Mamie that her contribution to the garden was going to be as a boss lady sitting in an easy chair, under an umbrella, with a cool drink in her hand. When we showed up at her house, ready to work, she admitted to me that she was “wore out” from doing so much already that day.

I told her that I had a chair with an umbrella all set up for her and that all she needed was the cool drink. I suggested that she drive down to the field with her beverage, but she’d have none of that. She grabbed her hoe and some seed and sashayed herself down to the newly tilled plot where she stood in the dirt, leaning on her hoe, waiting for an assignment.

Last year, the process began with eyeballing the rows, which created confusion when it came time for tilling between the rows. Tillers operate best in straight lines, not on random bunny trails. I took her aside and reminded her that Richard is a scientist, and likes to do everything in a measured manner. I admitted that it takes longer, and she added, “But it looks so much prettier.” This was a good enough reason for Richard’s rational approach in her mind, so we went with it.

As Richard measured and marked, Mamie sat with me discussing what should go where in the garden based on companion planting methods and the need to keep her chickens away from some crops. She was so cute sitting in the shade that I told her next time I’d bring a recliner for her to nap in. She insisted that she wasn’t sleepy, just “wore out” from working, and got up to go to the house for a glass of water. Next thing we knew, Mamie was back in her big white car with a pitcher of ice water and drinking cups for her farm hands.

She watched and advised, but I did catch her napping; so I took a picture of Richard in the foreground with her dozing in the background. I told her I need that photo to defend my honor when she tells everybody that whenever there’s work to be done, I leave town and leave the work to Richard. We got a good laugh over that.

We put in potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, onions, spinach, and lettuce – in all twelve rows with ten varieties of vegetables. After Mamie went inside, I planted a few gladiola bulbs as summer surprises. We’ve completed our first crop creation foray this spring.

1 comment:

  1. Your Mamie sounds just like someone I know and love...leisurely 'naps' from being wore I thoroughly enjoyed this entry and would loved to have been there helping with the companion plantings, the leaning on the hoe, even the surprise. I can't wait to dig in the dirt myself. It's still a bit too early up north.
    Thanks for sharing. Bless your heart for being such a fine gardener