Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Gruesome Glimpse of Our Garden

Mamie’s fond of saying that anyone who doesn’t believe in gambling shouldn’t garden. This year, that’s an understatement. If Richard and I had any sense of superstition, we’d have long ago realized that we have horribly weird weather woes.

Now that we’ve watered our plants enough to stave off death, risking Mamie’s well pump in the process, the storms have moved in and fouled our fields. The corn which yesterday stood proudly reaching for heaven is now lying down in the dirt. The poles on which our green beans grew have become a bamboo mat with accents of leaves and beans.

Don’t you think we should have gotten a glimpse of the fact that weather isn’t our ally, when after being flooded out of our Louisiana home by a record-breaking hurricane; we brought to Tennessee a record-breaking drought that dried up our newly dug pond? One might wonder whether foolhardiness or faith led us to believe we could grow a garden.

We planted late because of too much spring rain, and once our seeds sprouted, we had to hand water. Just as the corn came onto the stalks higher than our heads we’re hit with super storms -- Is this a curse resulting from of my ambivalence about all the cooking and canning that gardening success would bring?

Who are we going to feed anyway? Mamie now eats like a bird, and I don’t mean by that she eats constantly; she says she’s lost her appetite for food. Lynda, the pastor of the Coker Creek church that contains a food pantry, only distributes fresh food once a month. County and community “feed the people” outreaches are governed by local board of health laws, and we don’t have an inspected kitchen for preparation. What possible reason could we have for continuing to grow more garden goods than the three of us (counting Mamie) can eat?

We both love to cook; I especially enjoy being given the challenge of turning a group of random ingredients into edible fare. What do infirm old folks on the mountain do for food if they have no family here? Maybe we could become cooks and drivers for “Meals on Wheels” in Coker Creek and leave the growing to the really good gardeners.

What would we do for fun if we didn’t grow a garden? We love to read; I love to write; I can even get exercise with Deborah and her debs. Richard has hobbies galore that give him a lot more sense of control than our recent gardening gaffs, and a house is a never-ending honey-do list. He and Gary have become fishing friends through their involvement in the Ruritan Club. And Christmas package preparation takes two months to complete.

I love hearing stories of other people’s pursuits; I hope to collect oral histories of Mamie, Jack, and other long-time Appalachian residents. I could continue to cultivate writers like Jack and Nancy, and might even use some of the time to tell my own tales.