Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Bat Is Born by Randall Jarrell

A bat is born
Naked and blind and pale
His mother makes a pocket of her tail
And catches him. He clings
to her long fur
By his thumbs and toes and teeth.
And then the mother dances through the night
Doubling and looping,
Soaring, somersaulting-
Her baby hangs on
All night, in happiness,
She hunts and flies.
Her high sharp cries
Like shining needlepoints of sound
Go out into the night and
echoing back,
Tell her what they have touched.
She hears how far it is,
how big it is,
which way it's going:
She lives by hearing.
The mother eats the moths and gnats
she catches
In full flight. In full flight
The mother drinks the water of the pond
She skims across.
Her baby hangs on tight.
Her baby drinks the milk she makes him.
In moonlight or starlight,
In midair
Their single shadow,
printed on the moon
Or fluttering across the stars,
Whirls on all night.
At daybreak,
the tired mother flys home to her rafter
The others are all there.
They hang themselves up by their toes,
They wrap themselves in their brown wings.
Bunched upside down, they sleep in air.
Their sharp ears,
Their sharp teeth
Their quick sharp faces
Are dull and slow and mild.
All the bright day, as the mother sleeps,
She folds her wings about her sleeping child.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Wild dogs are coming down from the hills, preying at will on the livestock and the children. They bark in the middle of the night, shit on the front lawn and spread garbage where they please. They're stealthy - sticking to the edge of the property, just out of gunshot range. They come closer only at night, in the dark, and you never know they're there. Not until morning, when you can follow their grisly trails, if you dare. They cut trails down steep embankments, foul the water supply, prey on endangered species and kill chestnut trees and hemlocks. Their meanness seems matched only by their stupidity, but when you come down to it, that is far surpassed by our own stupidity for letting this situation get out of control. They need to be exterminated - the only problem being their sheer numbers, and ammo is running low.
There will be those who object to the wholesale slaughter of these beasts, but I see no other solution. They are at their core useless and evil, and only the soft-hearted and the weak will tolerate their presence. An impotent moron like James Thurber may find these creatures cute and endearing, and an illiterate Commie hack like Jack London may find them noble, even elegant, but there are many of us who know better. They need to be eliminated before they can breed to such numbers that law-abiding citizens are afraid to leave their homes, and are reduced to erecting fences around themselves just to keep the brutes out.
These may sound like harsh words to those conditioned by any kind of Saxon morality, but the Saxons were a filthy people. They slept with cattle and defecated in their own homes. They impose upon us a morality that dictates that savage murdering dogs cannot be shot in cold blood, but finds no other use for dark-skinned people other than to manufacture garments and electronics, or to be tricked out of oil. They are a savage people, and the Romans rightly vomited at the first sight of them. But the Romans were far away from home, and were too weary to exterminate the bastards. They knew they had reached the edge of their land mass, and never thought these savage and brutal people would be able to harm them. They only half-heartedly attempted to control this dirty hoard, and never imagined they would be over-run. The Romans collapsed in upon themselves, through lethargy and inattention, and were eventually picked off, one by one, by the very people they had once thought filthy and disgusting, but of no real threat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

We've Got A Goat

The Assholes rescued him from Asheville. It was last summer sometime, when the Assholes were actually behaving pretty well. Their yard was picked up, there wasn't more than one trash can full of empties outside their house, and no one had run into a ditch in months. They found the goat in Asheville somewhere, in somewhat sqaulid conditions. Someone with five or six goats and some ducks and a few rottweillers, all fenced in around a trailor somewhere around Enka. The Assholes decided to rescue two of the goats. They brought them up to S**'s, let them roam around the little cabin they had fixed up for hunting season.
But the Assholes disappeared when winter started. One of 'em got fished out of a ditch, again, by EMT and wound up in detox. Another voluntarily checked in about a week later. No one's heard from the other ones. The goats roamed around the hillside between the cabin and S**'s house. They'd never cross the Creek and go to S**'s - they just stayed around the cabin and grazed in the field where we're gonna put the greenhouse. K** could see them from her kitchen window. She worried about them a lot, and sometimes would tell S** to go give them some hay. They'd come visit with us when we were unloading greenhouse materials. They were both very friendly. They'd climb all over the trailor and into the bed of the dump truck. They'd follow us when we left, baaing, chasing the dump truck to the edge of the creek but never crossing.
Last week we'd only see the one. He'd come up to us every day, but we never saw his buddy. We denied the worst, at first, but finally accepted it as the only possibility. And we started to say to one another that the same thing would happen to the remaining goat, if no one did anything.
That's when I started to think about taking him home to I*. A kid needs a goat, I said to myself. They'll be cute together. I ran the idea by S** and K**, and S** fired up the tractor. We hitched the wagon to it, crossed the creek, and brought the goat home. That was this morning.
So here I am sitting in front of a computer with a goat next to me, chewing on the Mtn Express. The goat, not me. This is 21st Century organic farming, I guess. It feels kinda good, though. Now that I think about it, this is really my first farm oriented post. I've been meaning to write a little about ordering seeds, or getting my greenhouse ready for spring planting, or the chickens or the strawberries or ... something, but it hasn't happened.
But here you have it. A little blog vignette about life on the farm - I'm sitting in my living room with a goat.
I brought it up to RM's this evening, so she could give it the once over and tell me he's a healthy little goat. She just snickered. Or maybe it was a giggle. Then I brought him over to T* & S*'s house, and he chilled on the porch while we watched a video.
I* has already hugged him and they should become good friends.
The little goat seems healthy. He's a happy little goat, and he's really friendly.
I put him in the chicken coop today while we went down to Waynesville to disassemble D*'s new greenhouse. I figured he'd be safe there. He tried to get out, though, by butting his head against the gate. He managed to cut his ear and was bleeding when I got back. That's when I got introspective. What am I doing? Do I know what I'm doing? What do I have a goat for, anyway?
I started with the best of intentions, of course, but he still got hurt. Is that what it comes down to? I go out to save a goat and succeed only in making him bleed? Who am I, the United States Army?
I figure I'll move him into one of the old Volkswagens. Build him a little pen. Make him a feed trough. Tie a bell around his neck. Take him for a walk sometimes. Maybe start thinking about getting him a little playmate.
(Speaking of little playmates - No. I'll leave you hanging.)
I* will learn to feed him and comb his hair and shovel his poop and do whatever you do to goats. We started with bees. That was years ago. Then came the chickens. Then the babies. Now this. The trend seems to be one of ever increasing size. I need to draw a line before we end up with a bison.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Yeah, But Daniel Boone Drank From Crystal Clear Mountain Springs

The devil reveals his presence through electrical devices. I have seen televisions, dishwashers, washing machines, and even telephones burst into flame.
Father Gabriele Amorth
Senior Exorcist for the Vatican

While I can claim little experience with witch's mammery glands or well diggers posteriors, I do know it's cold outside. I mean, cold!
I'm about to start washing potatoes for dinner when: no water comes out of the faucet.
Okay, the pipes are frozen.
The pipes are frozen? It's barely even dark, yet.
I go outside to investigate. There's a lamp in there for heat and the light bulb's burned out. Why today? And on further investigation I notice that the heat tape I've got running along the pipes is, well, not hot. Okay - how long's that been broken?
I go to boil water to pour over the pipes - no flame on the stove.
Okay, the propane is frozen. So I get out my little electric tea kettle, try to find some water ... oh, there's some in the other tea kettle. So I switch water from one tea kettle to another (there will always be an England) and pour a little over the pressure regulator at the propane tank. Viola! The stove works. So I pour the water back into the first tea kettle (see previous parenthetical statement) and get that to what my Grandma used to call a "good rolling boil."
Outside, I push the cover off the well house, and pour the water over the pipes. I let it trickle down slowly, letting every drop hit the PVC with its heated goodness. In coffee houses in Turkey they aren't so careful about the way they pour things.
I rush back inside expecting to see a torrent from the faucet - nothing. Okay. More water. Where. Melt snow? No ...the pot I made noodles in last night! It's still on the stove, unwashed, and I had thoughtfully filled it with water so the noodle remnants wouldn't petrify. So I go to heat that but the propane has frozen again. So I pour a bit of dirty noodle water into the electric teapot (England,) heat that, pour it over the propane tank, get the stove going, boil the noodle water (good & rolling) and am ready to go back outside. I pour the water into a Thermos that has a spout on it, to get that Turkish coffee effect, and am back outside. Dark already. I guess at where the pipe is, pour, rush, expecting - no.
That pipe is really frozen. Did I mention it was cold? A little good rolling boiled water usually thaws everything right out, but not today.
More water. None. Nowhere. Pond? Frozen. Branch? Yeah, but it's so low it would take about a thousand scoops to fill the teapot. (You guessed it: I've been there. I've done that.)
How about J*'s hairdrier? (I losing count of how many appliances are being used in this procedure.)
J*'s hairdrier.
Where would that be?
She's away for the week-end. Did she leave it?
Where would J* put a hair drier?
Half an hour later, I've got it. It was in a cardboard box in the middle of the floor, filed amongst some cookbooks and a bag of diapers.
I stretch an extension cord to the well, plug in, and blow. And blow. And blow. After fifteen minutes of thusly huffing and puffing, I go back inside to see if the water is flowing. It is. All over the floor. I'd left the stoppers in the drains.
Oh, the walk-in cooler. I get the mop, mop up the water, wash the potatoes, dice and slice and start to fry, and remember that the cover is off the well. I go outside - dark, but the moon is full and glorious on the snow - and push the cover back on the well. Back inside, I go to clean the chopping board and find the water flows not.
Frozen already?
Back outside with the hair drier, huffing and puffing, and nothing.
It can't be that frozen.
Then I noticed that when I pushed the cover back on the well, I hit the wire right where it's spliced together, and knocked everything loose.
I turn the breaker off, try to reconnect everything, and succeed in breaking the wire.
Okay. Is there any cereal in the house. Peanut butter? No, I'd better fix this now.
I look for a flashlight, find three, but none with working batteries, so walk up to the shop for an oil lantern, a wire stripping tool, and some wire nuts.
But I can't find my lighter. So I break a straw off the broom, light that in the fireplace, light the lantern, go outside and get the well wired back.
Still no water.
It had frozen again.
I refuse to use the hair drier again.
Who am I - Farrah Fawcett?
What else is available?
Aha! J*'s plug-in electric heater. She'll never miss it.
Outside, I lower it over the side of the well house, plug it in, gently replace the lid, and go back inside.
The potatoes are done. Delicious.
Fifteen minutes later, the water starts flowing.
It's still on. I dare not shut it off tonight. The erratic splattering sound it makes against the bottom of the sink is somehow melodic and soothing. Reassuring. I'm going to enjoy doing the dishes tonight.

About the first sentence in this post.
Upon reflection, I must admit that I have in my life attached myself to the mammery glands of a witch or two, and, about the well digger's posterior, well, I act like one from time to time.
Am I sharing too much?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Crash Test Dummy

Someone told me this.
I have no idea if it is true, and I'm too lazy to do the research required to see if it is, so ...
I'm posting it on the internet!

The Dept of Transportation requires auto manufacturers to equip cars with bumpers capable of withstanding a 10 mile per hour collision. That is not a tremendous force, it turns out. Slamming on the brakes can subject the load in a truck to a much greater force. So, researchers are trying to breed a tomato capable of withstanding a 20 mile per hour collision.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I'm thinking about what new hoes to get for the season, but, I have the feeling I'm gonna need a snow shovel soon.
I'm plotting out the fields - making diagrams that will be filled in green lettuce and squash and okra and watermelon. But the ground is frozen and the front walk is slick with ice.
I stare at pictures of tomatoes and well, more tomatoes, but then boil up some more soup with garlic and ginger 'cause I'm still congested.
I bought some new points for the plow but it's so cold I dare not do any work for fear of cracking a wrench.
I remember waking up in the school bus in August and walking through knee-high grass to get to the fields. There's icicles on the rear view mirror.
Tomorrow I want to - get this - wire up the walk-in cooler.
I email prospective interns and tell them about the swimmin' hole. I don't wash my hands without letting the hot water come out of the faucet for at least 30 seconds.
If D* calls, we'll be working on his greenhouse tomorrow. Going through elaborate steps to build a big structure that turns January into June.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Johnny's Catalog: A Review

The Johnny's Selected Seeds 2005 Commercial Catalog is thrusting itself into the nations mailboxes with the force and zeal of Operation Enduring Freedom, and it is none too late for a hungry literary public.
We've all come to expect nothing but excellence from our friends at Johnny's, and the 2005 catalog doesn't disappoint. There are some who claim that diversity is the cornerstone of sustainable farming, even of sustainable economics. Balderdash! exclaims this reviewer! Everything the grower needs for a bland, indistinct and tasteless garden can be found in these glossy 152 pages! Johnny's really brings farming into the 21st Century - no thought is required to use this catalog. Order from Johnny's and rest assured that you are growing the same varieties as every other brainless dolt in the business. Stick everything under your EZ-Up and go back to sleep.
Unusual varieties do sneak into these pages on occasion, but rest assured: Johnny's tireless staff has conducted exhaustive research to ensure the commercial viability of each and every item. Who will forget when they stunned the gardening world years ago by offering Carmona lettuce! Some objected, pointing out that a responsible seed company like Abundant Life had carried Carmona for years, keeping the variety alive and viable, and Johnny's only stepped when they smelled a buck. Clearer heads pointed out that Abundant Life should stop printing their catalog on recycled paper and include some fucking pictures! And stop sending all their profits to the third world and a bunch of Native Americans!
Red and purple carrots are the latest bandwagon that Johnny's has belatedly jumped onto. I've bought purple carrots from Scheeper's for years, since before they were discovered by yuppie chefs in Berkeley, and am pleased to learn that I will no longer have to send my business to a small company focused on rare and unusual varieties. Johnny's makes once stop shopping so easy! There are many small, family run, regional seed companies that spend years cultivating a market for a variety that Johnny's offers as soon as that variety goes mainstream. Some argue that small companies can't grow in such an environment. Did Sam Walton worry about such trivia?
There are some who claim that any small farmer who buys his seed from Johnny's deserves to have each and every one of his customers beat a path to the nearest Safeway. I say such critics deserve to be pummeled to death by an overpriced, sissy European hoe. There are some who claim that this great land has precious few seed companies committed to carrying rare varieties and promoting genetic diversity. I say, only carry a rare variety when the foul stench of a dollar bill settles in your canine nostrils. Some say Johnny's should use their untold millions to promote genetic diversity instead of sending everyone their insipid little mailings. I say, those whiners should be buried in Micro Mix. Some say Micro Mix is just sprouts that you left for too long. I say, it's a shrewd marketing scheme.
The natural world is in great debt to Johnny's for offering heirloom tomatoes. A whole page of them! Twelve varieties! Never let it be said that Johnny's is not doing it's part to preserve our biological heritage. And they even offer ... Brandywine! What a bold move! Perhaps not as inspired and provocative as Duchamp's 1917 decision to display Fountain, but close. Here, Johnny's demonstrates their usual leadership ....
And the ad copy in the catalog! Identifying heirloom tomatoes as "a special retail opportunity" leaves no doubt in the reader's mind as to exactly what this company stands for. But it does more, so much more. It reveals not only Johnny's self-serving, near-sighted business practices but also manages to reveal much about their customers.
What do they care about, the reader begs. What is important to them? The answer is clear.
The photography is up to Johnny's usual standards and the reader can rest assured that any seed purchased will grow into something that looks exactly like the vegetables pictured. The choice for the cover, however, left this reader puzzled. How does one interpret the road through the cornfield pictured on the 2005 cover? Is Johnny's claiming to be a middle-of-the road organization with no clear direction or purpose? Or is the girl stooped over on the road supposed to represent the small seed company, about to be slammed to oblivion by a runaway juggernaut? The separation between the two cornfields raises thought provoking questions. Is one field genetically engineered and the other not? If so, on which field is Johnny's model turning her back? While many questions remain unanswered, the reader cannot help but be reminded of the pathetically long amount of time it took Johnny's to sign the Safe Seed Pledge. While seed companies with integrity signed on immediately, Johnny's waited for the market research to come in.
Any way you interpret it, the cover photographs leave the reader unsatisfied. They don't come close to the tour de force published in the 2004 edition. The front cover, as I'm sure everyone remembers, showed a crew of Hispanic workers harvesting a field of green peppers, while the back cover featured two young women cutting flowers. Never has a seed company's place in the community been so nobly demonstrated in cover photographs, and one fears that it will be a long time before anyone comes close. The front cover photograph was a masterpiece of composition: the endless fields in the background leaving no doubt as to the corporate nature of the farm being worked, the vegetables being harvested, green peppers, boldly proclaiming that taste and flavor is not a consideration in this enterprise. The workers, occupying the foreground, brought the whole photo together. The expression on the face of the center worker seemed especially poignant. At first glance, his countenance seemed to say: "How merry I am to be toiling under the glorious sun, harvesting peppers grown with Johnny's seed!" On closer examination, however, one glimpses just a bit more. He also seems to say: "I'm completely fucked because I have brown skin."
The brilliance of this photo was matched by the back cover's offering. There, two attractive girls are seen frolicking in a field of flowers, giggling as they snip zinnias. Hard at work, they seem to proclaim: "Daddy's rich and sent us to college!"
This proved to be an image building coup for the folks at Johnny's, as we all recall. The industry rocked at the realization: corporate agri-business and market gardening trust babies alike, Johnny's bends over for 'em all!
Well, maybe not all. For some reason. Johnny's continues to offer lower prices to people who live in New England. It may be good news to the blue-bloods, but it is offensive to the rest of us. Stop being so snooty and offer one price across the board. Or, nation, as the case may be.
If that sounds like your kind of seed company, the 2005 catalog should make delightful winter evening reading. Or, you can click on the Seed Saver's Exchange link to the right.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Three Bricks Shy ...

No, we haven't moved the greenhouse yet. But we have moved two dump truck and two trailer loads full of various greenhouse oriented paraphenalia. Flats and cell-packs and misters and hanging baskets and shelving and tables and little fountain pumps and little porcelain planters shaped like baby booties and fluorescent lights and more flats and more cell-packs ....
You get the idea. We have only six or seven more dump truck loads, then we'll get to the actual greenhouse.
The weather has been positively spring-like (there have been apple blossom sightings) but that is bound to change. Winter should come back soon and the creek we need to cross will become a raging torrent. Getting across in the dump truck then becomes a lot more interesting. I've thought about using the greenhouse pieces to fabricate some kind of bridge, but that sort of defeats the purpose. Still, we'd be able to get across.

On a completely different note, I'm beginning to get emails from prospective interns. Some of them are, well, not form letters, they're formal letters. That doesn't cut it around here. Still, it's a game of sorts. They try to make themselves sound good. I try to make myself sound good. I try to be as straight forward as I can about the farm, but I know I must sugar coat things a bit. They're probably in the same space. One person wrote asking for an application. I said I don't exactly have an application, just write whatever you think of and send it to me. She wrote that she's really interested in organic farming but that she's really afraid of bugs. But she didn't think it would be a problem. Doesn't sound like a problem to me.

Friday, January 07, 2005

S**'s Barn, Now and Then

We're burning S**'s barn. It's keeping us quite warm.
A shame to see the old thing go. How long has it been there? Thirty years? Forty?
The wood's dried out by now.
Back when S** grew tobacco, he dried it in the barn that D*'s gonna use to store his greenhouse stuff. He lashed long poles to the roof rafters - all sorts of wood: poplar, cherry, sycamore, locust. He'd hang the tobacco from these poles until it was ready to be worked. But D* won't be needing these for his greenhouse, so we cut, crowbarred, and wrestled them all down. And I cut 'em up for firewood. For the millionth time, I'm sitting in my house after an exhausting day, asking myself: What would I do without S**. Least I can do is burn his barn.

That was my first lead. We're burning S**'s barn.
My other was: Burning tobacco products isn't always so bad.
I was going to segue into something or another about a tobacco barn being used in conjunction with a hobby greenhouse. I was going to get really melodramatic and compare S** working in the old days, roaming over the mountains and taming wild rivers and running moonshine and bravely growing tobacco in order to put food on his family's table. Then I'd go into something about a big, plastic building outside that barn, now. A liesure activity for people from somewhere else. A decoration rather than a livlihood.
I was going to go on and on with stuff like that, but I'll spare you. I'm still sick, and I have a headache. It's dark and I just need to lie down and rest. I should make some tea, but I don't know if I have the energy. I'll post my rough notes, and let you fill in the blanks.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Lunch with Carl Jung

If I don't get stuck in the creek, I should be okay. That's the only part I worry about right now, though God knows a more intelligent man would worry about more. We're building a greenhouse across the creek on S**'s property - across from his house, near his old cattle barn. The whole thing is D*'s idea - dream, S** says derisively - and we're mostly just doing what D* says. I don't know how I got involved - D* somewhere or another got the idea that I know something about greenhouses. Or maybe he didn't. But somewhere along the way he got the idea that I know about something. And I got hired. Sometimes I think S* had something to do with it. D* needs a little bush-hogging and grading done and I think S** volunteered me. Next thing you know I'm a consultant. Running things.
There's not much to run yet - just D*'s dream.
Maybe I should back up just a little bit. D* has lived on S**'s place a few years now. In an Airstream back up by the pond. He goes into Asheville to work. I haven't seen much of him since he moved him, know him mostly from what S** says, which isn't kind. Someone offered to sell D* a greenhouse - a big one. A nursery down in Junaluska that's not in business anymore. So D* buys. He's got a plan to retire from whatever he does in a year or two and become what he calls a "hobby farmer." He wants a cow and some chickens and wants to sit on his front porch with a wheat stem stuck in his mouth and watch the corn glisten in their straight little rows in the warm evening sun. Or something.
The greenhouse is all part of this, as near as I can tell. It's something he wants to build for S** and K**, it's something he wants to piddle in himself, it's something he wants to make a fortune off of. He comes from a different angle everytime I talk to him. The only conclusion I've been able to draw so far is that he doesn't know what he's doing. That's alright. A lot of people don't know what they're doing. Some are less skilled at hiding it than others.

I'm going over to S**'s first thing tomorrow to bush-hog and then grade. We need to neaten the area a bit. Make a staging area, of sorts. Then the greenhouse gets torn down and hauled up here. And hauled across the creek. And placed in our now neat staging area and then erected. After which time D* will have his greenhouse.
I drove back from Texas a few days before New Year, not really knowing what I would do the rest of the winter but knowing I didn't have enough in my pocket to start up the farm for next year. Yeah, that was me out there on I-59 in Alabama - no money and no plan, just some twisted faith in Jesus, which was my own personal left-overs from Christmas. I get back and learn about D*'s greenhouse deal. No, Jesus is probably not responsible, but as soon as I fire up the tractor tomorrow morning I'm on somebody's payroll, and that leaves me feeling just a llittle bit beatific.
I'll ford the creek down near S** & K**'s house, down past the little bamboo grove. I don't think I'll get stuck there. We've been over plenty of times in S**'s tractor without a mishap. We got stuck down from S**'s house once - S** and B* both on the tractor in the middle of the creek and no way to get off. They both sat out there while I walked up to the barn and got the other tractor and went back to drag them out. S** thanked me. Damn, S**, I said, I wouldn't have just left you there.
I've been stuck down near S**'s old cabin, near where his goose used to live. It's muddy there, real muddy. Not a good place to cross a creek on a tractor. Then there's the spot further upstream, near H*'s field. I'm not sure why I'm reluctant to cross there. I think S** and I almost rolled his bulldozer there a few years ago, but the memory is sort of blocked out. Anyway, I'm shying away from it.
We've been across the creek a thousand times. I don't know why I'm concerned about it.

At "dinner" today, K** said, "Frank, what do you eat when you cain't sleep?"
"Wha?" I said.
"I ain't slept hardly a wink in two nights, Son. I dream somethin' awful."
I got some more corn bread. And soup.
"I dream about muddy water, Son. Swirlin' muddy water. They say that ain't good."

Pink Cadillac

There's a strange psychic connection between Bobby Kennedy's voice and the sound of the Rolling Stones.
Hunter Thompson wrote that somewhere, I think. I don't know when or where, I just found a tattered piece of an envelope where I wrote that down and attributed it to Thompson.... It must have had some significance to me at the time, but for right now, I couldn't disagree more.
I'm coming out of three or four days of a feverish disgrace where I was barely functional, and my mind operated (operates, still) at unpredictable speeds.
I can't bear to have the thought of Bobby Kennedy or any other image of hope thrown at me right now, not so close to Inauguration Day, but then, I'm preparing for yet another growing season, and what inspires me and keeps me going other than that elusive and evasive little notion called hope?
That's where my problems start. Planning yet another growing season. And at one moment I have big plans, intending on taking the farm to bigger and better places, gargantuan places, even. Then I say, No. Slow down. I'm recovering from a rough few years. Take it slow. Stick with the basics. Practice fundamentals. Build up some momentum and them make a giant leap ....
I waver back and forth between these extremes, have been wavering back and forth since I got back from Texas, and then I find that annoying little quote somewhere in a closet where I thought I'd stashed a pair of clean socks. You see, I've noticed that the way I plan the farm is a direct reflection of the kind of music I'm listening to. I tried to humor myself that there was no correlation, but there seems to be no escaping it, now.
I go through catalogs, plot out the fields, make lists of building projects, make budgets for repairs, and, somewhere in this process I throw on some Goat's Head Soup just to stay awake. The next thing you know my plans are twice as elaborate as they've ever been, I'm planning on growing ten times as much as I ever had, and I've somehow convinced myself that there is indeed a market for rare types of Norwegian celery.
That gets old, or I stop to get something to eat, or whatever. By the time I sit back down, the tape is over and I'm listening to classical music on the public radio station from Johnson City. (I want you all to take a deep breath, and let that concept rest on your minds for just a moment. Classical music from Johnson City.) Alright. I'm glad we shared that. The garden becomes much more manageable. Everything seems practical. Do-able. It's well thought-out and organized. I haven't planned crop rotation based on the color wheel, or the alphabet. I'm planting in straight lines.
That's all well and good until the next time I sit down to do a little planning. Something a bit more raucous may be filling my eardrums, and I'm devising huge sculptures to erect over the fields that serve as an irrigation system, deer deterrent, windmill and Chinese tearoom. Then I switch to Norah Jones. Forget all that wild stuff. I'd really like to plant some cosmos along the driveway....
It calls into question that whole free will thing. Do I react to the circumstances around me, or do I create them?
Who the fuck is really doing the driving?
As Bruce said in his inspired intro to Pink Cadillac: Why does my mind lead me one way, but my flesh another?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Happy New Year

I've been sick as a dog for three days, I can't find any ginger, I'm out of clean socks, and the mouse is going spastic on me. I don't know which is worse - obviously three days of delusional vomiting is the likely candidate, but the fever is going down and the whole thing doesn't seem so bad in retrospect. The sock thing has happened before and, believe you me, will happen again. The ginger thing is nagging at me - rice soup with garlic and ginger, that always gets me on my feet again. Some chicken or other kind of dead animal helps, but the garlic and the ginger are what do it for me and I can't find any ginger anywhere. A mouse with cerebral palsy is the kind of thing I would have shrugged off just a few short years ago, but now nags at me incessantly.
Okay, the little fucker goes up and down on the screen, but doesn't go side to side. Ordinarily, I would attempt to find some greater meaning in all of this, but, right now, I say to myself that the fucker is broken and I can't get passed that. It nags at me, pressed down on me, like the veins in my forehead, shrivelling and contracting, tighter and tighter as I get more and more dehydrated and the light from the front porch bounces of my window when I wake up in a coughing fit at three in the morning in a hallucinatory daze and watch the light flickering through the condensation, through the moisture, into the moisture and leaves me wondering just how much moisture is left in my sorry little brain - haven't kept anything even water down in a day and a half but somehow that loses all significance as I stare at the little red lines on the clock radio 3:11 the little lines all come together to say and exactly what in my short circuited Sahara desert of a brain gives such numeric significance to an arrangement of little red lines that seem to last so absolutely perfectly together at 3:11 and then I seem to glance at it again at it says ... 3:12. I drift off to sleep and when I wake up the sun is coming through the bedroom window and baking my flesh under a hundred blankets and do I still have a fever or what? Anyway I get up and stagger around and try to read and can't and walk up to the pond and back and have a coughing fit and then consider myself to have had a big day because I made it all the way through "Bob the Builder" without throwing up.
You see, I had intended on doing an elaborate New Year's Day post, setting up a smashing coming year, both agriculturally and literarily, but I ended up throwing up instead. So I sat down now to try to put a positive spin on things, maybe gloss things over a bit, and this is about all I could come up with. Nevermind. I'm sick.

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