Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Milking It

They're falling like flies in the organic farming biz this year.
It's not even October yet, not by my calendar, anyway, and already a number of farms have packed up their EZ Ups for the season.
It's ugly. It's obscene. It's downright pathetic, at times. Farmers wander aimlessly across the parking lot at the co-op, then duck behind their trucks and sob like babies. I can't go on, they cry. They curse the last bit of bok choi on their tables, throw it to the ground and pack up to go home. Or to seek out strong drink.
Those few pathetic fools who have CSAs are locked in to a set date - another two weeks, maybe - and can't quit, not without returning money they've already spent and never expect to see again. Serves them right. Any fool who commits himself to a CSA should be stapled to a sign alongside an interstate and not pried loose until his last shriveled bit of dandelion greens is bagged and paid for.
But that's another issue. What's at issue now is empty fields.
It's fall. The days are short and the mornings are long and the fescue goes to seed a week after it's been mowed and is only three inches tall. Harlequin bugs eat down any green that you started too late and got in the ground as an afterthought. The tomato vines are gooey and falling over and hidden by ragweed. Green beans hang from leaves eaten translucent by beetles, and the peppers cave in from sun scald. The only things worth harvesting are potatoes and butternut squash, and a case of those won't buy a gallon of gas.
One farm dropped out weeks ago, and two more went down today. A few will pretend to make a show of it on Saturday and then disappear. The CSA people are staring at their calendars, positive its a week later than it is. When their final date rolls around they'll crawl into a hole in the ground and come out after they get snowed on.
No one wants to pick anymore, and no one wants to drive to market, and no one wants to deal with customers. Not anymore. We've been doing that since April, and it was just barely fun, then.
I'm feeling remarkably ambivalent, myself. I could go on a while, or I could hang it all up tonight. There's years when all I want to do is keep going - pick anything anywhere and put it on the table. Ironweed bouquets! Acorns! Anything! The idea is to keep going and never call it quits. Other years there's such a sorry lot of green stuff scattered across the fields that I seek any excuse to shut everything down. Can't go, the truck got stolen. Can't go, gotta drive to Pittsburgh.
This year I'm feeling as though I'd like to close out October, but, then again, if I could go to Texas tomorrow I'd gas up the truck and take off. (I'm bound for Texas in mid-November to sell Christmas trees.) The harvest is just about over. I'm hanging on now by cleaning out the last of the rows - milking it out one more week and then one more by pulling leeks that have been passed over for a month or two, or digging for potatoes I may have missed the first time. I'm going to keep it going as long as I can, because: that's what I feel like doing.
We're a motley crew at best, but at this time of year we get downright ugly. We show up late and the tables are skimpy and we don't have time for stupid questions. A few of the rich kids are still going strong, but they'll get theirs. They'll die and suffer an eternity of pain and torture and question why they laundered their table cloths every week, but they don't think about that now. No, not now. They've still got stuff to pick, and they loose sight of larger realities.
Once upon a time a wind picked up somewhere east of the Sangre de Cristo and blew all the way to Georgia, taking every bit of top soil with it. Every wretched soul who had ever even gazed at a plow was left in ruins. Some went batty and were last seen running off into the dust, others sat on the porch and stared at their blistered and chaffed hands. What few who were left with any mental capacity at all drove to California. Half perished along the way and the other half starved when they got there. This is a tough business in the best of times, and in the worst of times it's downright deadly. God is the House in this business, and any gambler knows you're not gonna beat the House. It lets you win a few hands, just to milk you along, and then strips you bare and throws you out onto the street. You limp home broke and humiliated, but when Springtime rolls around, you throw the dice again.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Is This What A Vacation Is Like?

I packed up I* sometime Saturday afternoon and went to a rustic-lodge-of-sorts down near Tuckasegee. It was a market outing. Farmers and bakers and various friends all went together. It's a thousand acre tract down there that has been part of the Hickory Nut family conglomerate since Eighteen-Eighty-Something. That's a long time.
Well, we watched little kids splash around in a creek and we played frisbee and we watched little kids play frisbee and we splashed around in a creek and then we drank beer. Then we sat around a fire and then we drank some more beer. We went to sleep -it was I*'s first night away from Mom, his first night in a tent. He was a champ.
Next morn, we watched little kids eat pancakes and then we ate some pancakes and then hiked down a really long trail to look at a waterfall.
The thing about this whole deal is that it was planned. We've been talking about it for weeks, and by the time the big day rolled around, we were all pretty damn close to being organized. Ordinarily, when people start talking about doing something fun in the not too distant future, I don't get involved. I know I'm going to be too busy, or, I assume I'm going to be too busy, or I fulfill the prophecy all by myself and become too busy, or some variation on the above. There's always one more task that I need to get finished, then I'll have a bit of free time. I've been saying that for eight years.
I've always been better at the spontaneous time off thing. If someone says: Let's go do this right now, I'm more likely to go have fun. 'Cause it probably won't take very long and then I can get back to work. And it never involves a full day off - it's bits and pieces here and there.
As someone once said: If you want to live off a garden, you have to live in a garden.
There are occurences that I see as benchmarks for the farm. Hiring help. Going an entire year without missing a market due to lack of stuff. Having the means to fix stuff when it breaks instead of waiting for a bit of extra cash to come in. I'm thinking that a premeditated day off is another milestone.
Another season is winding down and I'm starting to put fields to sleep under cover crop. The end of season assessmant of the state of the farm as well as life its ownself is the same as ever, though these days perhaps muttered with a bit more elan: we're still here.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Our Little Planet Has Once Again Managed to Spin Its Way All The Way Around The Sun, Still Holding On To All Of Us As Tight As It Can

It was a year ago tomorrow that RM asked me to guest sit her blog while she went away to galavant at the beach. I was thinking about doing a sort of one-year-later sort of remembrance, with poignant reflections on my life and the lives of those dear to me. But I'm no good at that kind of thing. It's all I can manage to draw a line on the wall at the height of I*'s head about once a year.
The last line I put on the wall, he was right below my hip-bone. The line before that, he was about two-thirds the way up my thigh.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Secret Room

Not even Buck Rogers turns heads on the Las Vegas strip these days. It takes a whole lot more than that to turn even the most naive head in a town that promises instant fortune, stucco Versailles and exposed breasts.
Buck managed to garner quite a little following, though, when he made a guest appearance at a Star Trek convention at the Las Vegas Hilton last month, and he sat at a little card table for most of the weekend signing autographs and hawking DVDs. Some thought him sad, but they didn't understand the promise of Vegas (or, I daresay, the promise of America.) Buck has managed to find eternal youth in the video screen, and he'll be older and grayer still and covered with still more liver spots and he'll still live in the glory days of his old adventure series. It matters not that he's done nothing noteworthy in the past fifty years. He's living in the past, when he lived in the future.
Walter Anderson was insane, they say, but he was an artist and he had earned the right of eccentricity. He pedaled his little bicycle around Ocean Springs, Mississippi when he got old, muttering to himself and scaring little children. But he was reputed to be a genius, and high society smiled upon him, and that's what kept him from the jailhouse or the drunk tank or whatever fate awaits other old codgers. When he was young he'd row a 10 foot skiff out into the sea and live on an island for weeks at a time. He'd draw crabs and pelicans and grass and clouds, and then row back. He had a wife and some kids, so he'd invariable row out to sea again. He managed to find the time to do it all, just about - wood cuts and water colors and oils and then he started to make ceramic figures. The world embraced his eccentricities - eccentricity is lauded in the South and celebrated along the Gulf Coast, at least, if you're an artist - and was willing to pay a pretty penny for a genuine Walter Anderson. He never got rich, but he managed to keep things rolling. A cottage industry grew up around him, especially after he died. Walter Anderson prints can be seen in the finest homes in Biloxi and Mobile, they compliment the drapes in motel lobbies along US 90, and they're miniaturized onto postcards that can be bought just about anywhere. There's a artists colony, of sorts, outside of Ocean Springs, and it supports itself selling Walter's legacy. They reproduce his ceramic figurines like a machine stamping out widgets. The young show up to reside at the colony, clutching arts degrees and personal visions, to do their own thing. Their own thing, in Walter's shadow.
The hurricane earlier this month blew all that away. I feared the worst, at first. Family told me they didn't know what happened to the museum, specifically, but everything south of 90 was flattened. Those reports, it seems, were somewhat exaggerated. The Walter Anderson Museum is still standing, and a lot of his work seems to have survived. Shearwater, the Gulf Coast arts colony and crypt to Walter's memory (and bankability) seems to have been smashed to bits, but those reports, too, are sketchy.
Walter has a surviving sister, and she has tended to his legacy for oh so many years. She is a refined and genteel Southern woman, and she has never taken her role lightly. The finer families along the Gulf Coast don't take anything lightly. The sister has lived a fine Southern Gothic drama: her family name was made by a lunatic, and she maintains its honor as if it had been made by a Confederate general. Whether any of this is lost on her or not, I don't know, and how much she mourns the losses brought about by the hurricane, I don't know. But she seems to have found some fresh air when the winds died down and the waters receded. She is undoubtedly proud of all that has happened at Shearwater over the past generation, and she knows that they were living in the past. She seems prepared to say good-bye to all of that, finally, and move into the present. The hurricane seems to have destroyed all of the structures that had become nothing but a crypt, anyway, and what will be rebuilt in its place no one yet knows. One things for sure: Walter never settled down and stagnated. He may have been amused by the hurricane. He may not have mourned his lost work. He may have just resupplied his little skiff, and rowed out to sea.

Monday, September 19, 2005


The last fields of hay have been cut and sit bundled in tiny little rolls all up and down the valley. Tobacco has been cut and hung to dry. They'll be cutting silage soon, and then hunkering down and putting up with the mud. Not much to do, once it gets cold, but kill hogs and hunt bear. I've got a couple of tomatoes left on the vines, but that's about it. We'll be cutting cute baby squash right up until frost, I hope, but mostly we're waiting for the collard greens to grow.
I've got a few boxes of winter squash in, and the chestnuts are beginning to drop. Non-perishable autumn crops that can sit in a box and be brought to market over and over again. We're putting everything to rest.
Rye has been spread in the front and in the upper fields. I'll disk in the last pathetic little planting of buckwheat in the middle field pretty soon, and lay some rye down over it. I am in no way motivated to chop firewood.
Equinox is nearly upon us. The leaves are already starting to turn way up on Doggett, but we've got a little while, at least, until the tourists descend upon us. These days we've mostly just the bikers to deal with; they rocket up and down the road with the noise of a 747 or an F-16 or perhaps a rocket propelled greande. Whatever the proper analogy, there's a special place in hell for people who shamelessly make a disproportionate amount of noise in the middle of all this idyllic pastoralism, and it's not pretty. I don't know exactly what it looks like, no one does, and I can't bring myself to visualize it just now. You've been given reason, which distinguishes bad and good. Dante said that.
He also said that time goes away and man doesn't notice it.
(You didn't have to say people in 14th Century Italy.)
I don't know if I notice it or not. I've been feeling fairly well in tune with things this year - the wildflowers have given me some kind of a calender to mark the motion of the summer - daffodil to mayapple to daisy to queen anne's lace to goldenrod. Or, in the garden, bolting arugula to summer squash to green beans to tomatoes to, well, galansoga.
There won't be any new flowers from here on in. The nights will be longer than the days by the end of the week. The leaves will turn and drop soon. I kind of like it. Frost will be on the pumpkin and the smell of silage will be in the air. I want to take I* to the Smokies and walk down paths and listen to the sound of the leaves under our feet.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Refrigerator

There are two basic types of refrigerators: (1) the conventional single-door refrigerator with a small freezer compartment; and (2) the combination refrigerator-freezer, with one or two outer doors, which provides space for the storage of fresh foods and a large amount of frozen foods.
Proper daily care of the refrigerator involves wiping up any spills and spotwashing the outside surface as needed. To prevent the spreading of food odors in the refrigerator, wrap or cover food before storing it. To save fuel, open the refrigerator door only when necessary, and keep it open only as long as necessary. To lengthen the life of the rubber gasket, avoid touching it when opening and closing the door. Grease from the hands often softens the rubber.
The daily care it recieves determines in part how frequently the refrigerator should be defrosted and thoroughly cleaned. Once a week is the general rule. You should defrost it when the frost on the freezing compartment exceeds one-fourth of an inch, unless your refrigerator has an automatic defroster.
The general procedure for defrosting and cleaning is as follows:
1. To melt the frost, turn the control switch to "defrost" or turn off the electric current.
2. Remove frozen foods from the freezer compartment, wrap in newspaper to prevent thawing, and place in the other part of the refrigerator.
3. To speed up the defrosting process, place pans of hot water in the freezing unit. Always melt the frost, rather than trying to pry it loose with a sharp instrument.
4. After defrosting, remove all food from the refrigerator and clean the entire interior, including the freezing compartment, with a mild solution of warm water and baking soda (one teaspoon of soda to one quart of water.)Work rapidly so that the foods will be out of the refrigerator as brief a time as possible.
5. Turn the control switch to its normal setting.
6. Replace the food in the refrigerator, making sure that it is properly covered or wrapped, and checking to see if any of it should be thrown away because it is no longer usable.
7. Wash the ice trays, fill them with fresh water, and replace in the freezer compartment.
8. Clean the outside of the refrigerator with a mild soap or detergent and warm water. (If the outer surface is enamel, it may be waxed occasionally for protection and for easier cleaning.)

excerpted from Food For Modern Living, by Irene E. McDermott, Mabel B. Trilling, & Florence Williams Nicholas (Philadelphia, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1967)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I've Been Flat On My Back, Staring Up at the Molding Between the Ceiling and the Wall and Watching Both Planes Meld Together Into A Fluid Continuity

and what's more, I've been told it's West Nile Virus.
I thought at first it was some bug I got from I* - whenever I get sick its a day or two on the heels of I* - but all I knew at first, in those early days of delirium, was that once definite forms were liquid and all the more beautiful and reasonable for being so. I alternated between the sofa and my bed - sometimes nodding off on the sofa and waking up on the bed or vice versa, no matter. There was no finite difference between one room and another, and, as I recall, one day and another.
I fell flat on my back sometime Monday afternoon and felt like an egg could be fried on my forehead. That interesting twist to breakfast lasted an hour or two, then I couldn't stop shivering. These temperature extremes alternated until about three this morning, when I woke up retching, stumbled to the bathroom, tried to throw up, couldn't, fell back to sleep and woke up feeling fine. But this is not about disgusting bodily fluids, I assure you, it is about a state of expanded consciousness contained with-in a tropical virus.
God in a mosquito.
I spent the first day of the ordeal bemoaning my fate - oh, woe is me that this hardship should befall me, when I must make a living with honest toil upon the land, but am too weak to grasp my noble hoe - but sometime that evening got caught up in the symphony that originated in the coils behind the refridgerator. The sound swirled around in my head as I lay shivering on the sofa, seemed perfectly synchronized with my heartbeat and the chatter of my teeth. I listened for a few minutes or a few days, I've lost track, but the relative position of the Earth and the sun was relevant to nothing.
I kept simmering on the stove at all times a pot of rice soup liberally doctored with ginger, garlic and onion, and ladled myself a portion when-ever I felt hungry. I juiced a whole bag of apples, one day.
I'm better, now. Must've been the ginger. I'm now back on the world of the rational and the sane, and I assure you, we're all better because of it. I take my health for granted no longer. I don't want to go through another night alternating between chills and fever, to go days with every bone and muscle aching, to stagger around the house in a delirium with all sense of linear thought suspended. I'll wear a sweater when the weather gets chilly, now, and I'll never venture outside the house without my galoshes. I'll brush and floss and wear my seat belt and get five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
You don't take precautions until you get knocked flat out on your back. Then you take too many. Then gradually you fall back into your original complacency and you get knocked flat on your back again. I wish I could say I was smarter than that, but I'm not. We're going to evacuate the entire Eastern time zone at any threat of a hurricane for a few years now, then gradually pay less and less attention until one day we wake up to discover we're acting like we always did. I feel like I'd like to close on a more cheerful note than that. But that's what I've learned.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


I was stumbling out the front door and towards the truck, early this morning, when I caught it. I was off the porch, down the stairs and halfway to that little bag of coffee that I was sure was in the front seat when that little whiff of wood smoke entered my nostrils, curled up into my brain, and made me say, "No. Not yet."
Nevermind that I put a blanket on the bed last week, and should have put another one on the bed this week. Nevermind that I needed a jacket when I drove into market yesterday morning, and nevermind that it didn’t get light until I was somewhere near Woodfin, when it used to get just light as I was leaving the farm. It’s too early for fires in the woodstove.
I mean, it’s only, well, September.
Alright, but early September. The leaves aren’t even turning, yet.
Well, they are, sorta. Getting a little brown here and there, and looking like they want to turn. Chestnuts have started falling from the trees around the house, but that was a mere three days ago.
The State Fair is this weekend, that quaint little celebration of autumn harvest and prize winning apple pies, but it’s not like there’s frost on the – hell, I don’t even have pumpkins, yet.
The golden rod and ironweed have been in bloom so long I hardly notice them, anymore, though they get more and more stunning in the evening as the sun that hits them sinks, well, lower and lower in the skies, so low that the evening sunlight almost seems to be hitting them from below and shining up through them.
But that doesn’t mean it’s time to build a fire. It’s not like I’m sitting here at my keyboard shivering, or cradling my coffee in my hands and letting its heat seep through my hands.
I always look forward to autumn but I never quite want it to come. I always curse the heat and the workload of summer, but I never quite want it to end.
I can’t stop the march of time, obviously, but I can remain in denial about the need to chop firewod.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The End of EZ Ups

Talk of a big farmer's market for Asheville has been in the air for years. It gets talked up and a committee gets foirmed, then that all fades away and then it gets talked up again and another committee gets formed. We're in committee mode again.
There are many an impetus for this go-round - waiting lists at most of the markets, the idea that a central locale will draw more people to farmer's markets, and what could be a really cool location.There are plans afoot to redo Asheville's riverfront. Its happening already, though slowly. All the old warehouses down along the river and the railroad tracks are being turned into - you guessed it: artist's studios. The idea is to expand on this - gentrify the entirety of the riverfront, from the old racetrack clear up to UNC-A, with a feeder branch backing up the Swannanoa to the Nature Center. Parks, bikeways, jogging rails. You get the idea.
And right in the middle of it all? A farmer's market.So there we'll be, hawking organic kale on a grassy green lawn as joggers go by with their kids in those three-wheeled push strollers, waving to people cruising by in Subarus with kayaks strapped to the roofs, trying to make conversation with people juggling a cappacino in one hand and a cell phone in the other.
And people say the Bush administration hates black people. But that's another thread.
Oh, but there's one thing wrong with the picture I painted above. We won't be on a green, grassy lawn. We'll be under a permanent farmer's market structure, what I've taken to calling a portico, for want of a better word, or, at least, a picture. What does this mean, other than the fact that our Local Food Guides won't get wet when it rains? Well, we won't all be fighting to get that one spot in the parking lot that gets fifteen minutes of shade. But also it means: No one will need an EZ Up.
The big farmer's market, should it ever come to pass, will mean the end to the EZ Up, at least as we know. Those flimsy aluminum and nylon portable shelters with a six month life span, de riguer at this point, will become a thing of the past. Toss them on the scrap heap of history like back issues of Mother Earth News. They won't be needed anymore. We'll have a portico.

This is the first part of what promises to be a long series of posts keeping you updated on the big farmer's market, or BFM.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I've received a Chain Letter

It was exciting. And, I'm due to get $285,319.00 in the mail with-in a month.
My worries are over.
I didn't think there was such a thing as chain letters. I thought they were one of those things that everyone talks about but they don't really have them. Like UFOs or lawn jockeys or something.
I got one. A real one.
Also, if you'll look at the Comments part of the previous post, you'll notice I got some kind of computer generated mass mailing promo thing. I'm sure there's some really hip internet word that you're supposed to call those things. I haven't clicked on the link because I'm convinced that it's going to give my computer a virus and everything will die.
I like being singled out as part of the masses.
Chain letters and spam and stuff like that, it's almost like being called by the Gallup people.
A few years ago I got a letter from Sears where the guaranteed my satisfaction with some aluminum siding they were offering. This is nothing to be taken lightly. I'm pretty picky when it comes to aluminum siding, and if Sears was promising that I'd be completely satisfied then it must've been some pretty good stuff.
This was when I first moved here - oh, years ago.
I lived amidst twenty years of neglect. The building were run-down and everything was overgrown. Old junk lay in piles all over the place. I'd only started to clean everything up. and had barely made a dent in it.
I wanted to call Sears and have them send a salesman out. My friend A* was in on it with me. She was going to greet the guy at the door in curlers and a housecoat. We were going to take him to the chicken coop, first.
"How much to do this one," we'd ask, and, "What color would you recommend?"
We'd take him to every building on the farm and, with complete earnestness, ask if he could put aluminum siding on it.
We had the whole thing worked out but figured the poor guy would be working on commission. He probably wouldn't get anything for putting up with us, and we decided to spare him. It just may have given him a story he would have told and retold forever, but, maybe, he had better places to be.

Friday, September 02, 2005

these mad windows that taste life and cut me if I go through them

That's Bukowski. Again.
I forget what he was talking about in that one. Drunken women and classical music. Something like that. His love life and his booze intake.

The weather is a common topic of conversation when you're in my business. My standard response when asked about the weather this year has been it's damn near perfect. And it is. Plenty of sunshine and plenty of rain. Everything about even. It's hot when it's supposed to be hot and it's cool when it's supposed to be cool. Just when I feel like the soil is getting a little dry, along comes a rain shower. And in case the rain doesn't come, I have a nice little pond tucked beside the upper field that sends water where-ever I want.
I have a feeling of supreme gratefulness for all this. There are some people in the world surrounded by a very large amount of water that just isn't supposed to be there.
The farm in its beauty and serenity seems so far removed from the rest of the world, at least, the world as I learn of it through various electronic media outlets. I try to keep it and myself as connected as possible but at times the disconnect seems a gargantuan chasm. No floods here. Record rains, last year, and what happened? My tomatoes died. Big deal. No bombs falling from the sky. No one shooting at me. No one trying to repossess the farm. I don't sit in a car in rush hour traffic everyday. I don't wait for a bus that never comes to take me to a job I hate.
Calling relatives along the Gulf Coast has been another emotional roller coaster, and made vivid the difference between my life on one side of the mad window and all those people on the other side. Phone conversations have been a litany of what has been destroyed and who has been displaced, always culminating with a and how are you?
Me? Um, I'm fine. We're having a great year on the farm, and it's because the weather has been ... perfect.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Rest Assured, Everyone, I Was Out There Burning Petroleum Products Today

The strawberries have a home.
Some percentage or another of an acre in the upper field, prepared and ready to be planted into when the strawberry plugs get here. It's plowed and disked and the beds are ready. It was one of those late summer/and/or/early fall days that was just about perfect. The mountains shone green and the sky shone blue and the soil turned black and moist. Everything smelled good and there was a cool breeze and I was still plowing late in the afternoon when the sun got low and I got to watch my shadow riding beside me as I finished up. It was one of those days that gets about as perfect as seems reasonable to expect.
What was going on in the rest of the world, I had no idea. There was a question of whether there would be any gasoline anywhere, and what would happen if there was not. For me that boils down to market. Will there be market on Saturday? Should I burn what what little gas I have getting to market and back, or, should I sit tight? Will people be out and about in Asheville, or will everyone be hunkered down? That's why it seemed so strange to be sitting on the tractor all day watching deisel rise up out of the smokestack and curl into the atmosphere. But the strawberries needed a home.
There were doomsday scenarios being tossed about as I left the Wednesday afternoon market, with the end of the world being predicted as only it can be in Asheville. Random people appeared at market claiming there would be no gasoline available for weeks. Major cities in the Southeast would be dry by Sunday. Policemen were guarding gas stations. As a counterpoint, some predicted a return to normalcy as soon as the sun raised itself up in the morn. No one seemed to know for sure and I went to bed Wednesday night with my bets hedged.
There have been a number of phone calls today regarding our Saturday market. Should we or shouldn't we? Will you be there or not? A* seemed to be the final authority on the matter. She's the only one of us vendors who lives in Asheville, and I decided to rely on her judgement. We spoke once early, remained unresolved, and agreed to speak later in the day.
My question: Is life in Asheville normal and routine enough that people will be shopping for organic produce, or will people stay at home and conserve every drop of gasoline. It all hinged on this: how normal is normal?
There was a message on my machine from A* about five this evening. She said she'd call me later in the evening about market, but that she'd be out of the house for a while. She was going to a potluck.

My Grandmother's House, They Say, Rose Up In the Water and Floated Away

It was on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in a used-to-be-run-down town called Fairhope. It was right on the Bay, and she bought it back before anyone wanted to live in Fairhope. That was before Frederick (1979, Category 3), and before Fairhope became a place to retire to. I'd visit her sometimes, during the summer. She'dtake me to the laundromat with her, and we'd sit on the benches next to the driers and watch The Price is Right. She used to like to watch The Price is Right.
Fairhope grew up quaint and fancy around her. Gift shops and bed & breakfasts opened. It used to be that there were no businesses on Main Street. Then it got so you couldn't find a place to park.
My grandmother stayed in her house until she got too old to live alone. She was 87 or 88 or something when she finally went to live with one of my aunts. I only visited her there once. I remember her sitting in the living room reading a Wilbur Smith novel.
The house is gone, now. My uncle went by yesterday. All the houses along that stretch of the shore are gone. My grandmother's house, he said, floated up above its foundation, and then started to move out into the bay. There's nothing left of it, anywhere. I don't think I even have any pictures.

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