So, Emma has tomatoes.
On May 5, the day after she was born, her Gramps used a spade to turn over the good, dark Minnesota earth to form Emma’s Garden, a smallish 10′ x 6′ plot of very black dirt. Into the ground went cilatro, romaine lettuce, peppers, basil, flowers, and red raspberries. And a single tomato plant.
Emma’s mom shows off State Fair-quality tomatoes on her kitchen counter. A garden is a good thing. Such good soil in Minnesota would be a terrible thing to waste.
A few months later, and thanks to a corker of a Midwestern heat wave, Emma’s plant is producing in quantities I can only dream about.
The rush to build a garden actually springs from Emma’s great grandfatherwho cultivated a garden well into his 80s. Toward the end as his tillable plot grew smaller and smaller, tomatoes and raspberries were about all he had the energy to tend to. But he loved the soil and his deep forest-green thumb rubbed off on me, although mine more closely resembles a pale lime green. Maybe the deeper shade will take hold again in Emma’s mom.
My tomatoes are dwarfed by Emma’s. When I equate them to golf balls, I’m not kidding. I’ve seen bigger hailstones.
Perhaps one day in Reid, too. Ellen even mentioned expanding the modest-sized chunk of dirt and edible plants next year. When they were not much older than Emma is now, I vividly recall Ellen and Reid rooted at the Sugar Snap pea and Heritage raspberry plants in our garden. Very little of those two items ever made it to the kitchen. But there are far worse things than watching kids gobble up stringless peas and red raspberries.
I suppose a garden is something of an environmental statement which my letters have preached about on more than one occasion. Ellen and Tim no doubt went more of an organic bend than my enduring reliance on Miracle-Gro. The larger lesson might be that there’s nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty. Hopefully, Emma will wash hers off, unlike her granddad.
Here’s what Ellen and Reid found in their mailboxes last week.
August 20, 2012
Ellen/Reid: So I think we have the holiday situation kind of, sort of worked out. Ellen, you and Tim are not opposed to coming down here for early T-Day, November 15-18? That is great. Reid, you will be here for Christmas, correct? Your tickets are on me. I’m still not sure of my plans for the official Thanksgiving and should know about that in short order. St. Paul sounds doable. You truly have something to be thankful for. Maybe Thanksgiving should be May 4.
Last Wednesday the 15th marked my sixth year in Charlotte. Incredible. It just does not seem at all possible. It seems just yesterday I was in Des Moines, and then the upheaval. If you would’ve asked me five or six years ago (and no one has) for my impressions of the new surroundings, it would’ve been tempting to say ‘send me home’ and that would’ve been that. But time has a way of leveling the bumps out across the job and social spectrum and now this is home for all intents and purposes. A little too politically conservative on a lot of fronts, but that is the price to be paid for accepting the role here as an intruder. Felicia has made a big difference, too. Since I can work anywhere, there would’ve been a possibility of bolting for the old pastures. But this is it and its okay. I would like to get back to Des Moines with more frequency, but it’s hard.
Don’t hold me to it, but I’m thinking of parting with the Harley. For whatever reason, my balance very recently isn’t what it used to be, and to navigate with a heavy beast like that takes that ability. Perhaps it is the ribs (which feel the torque on certain turns) but something is different about riding it right now. Even as recently as a few months ago there was some thought given to a Road King, but that’s been tabled for the time being. There is always the off chance the next pleasant ride on the next nice weekend day will change my mind. I hope it does because there is nothing like cruising.
Mike Hill put his dog Buddy to sleep a couple of weeks ago. Mike posted some poignant videos of Buddy’s last meal on his Facebook page, and you should look that up. Reminded me of our last days with Scooter. It’s a dose of reality.
My A/C wasn’t totally on the blink after all. Apparently all it needed was a new “board” in the upstairs unit – I don’t totally get all the technical gymnastics about it – but the board was about the size of an iPad and cost just as much, too. So now there is at least cool air circulating in place of the hot, humid air that kept me away at night. Just another unexpected expense.
Reid, you could do worse than a cruise line as a new client. That sounds like a lot of fun, and they advertise a fair amount. I’ll have to start watching for their plugs on the web, which I am sure you will do a good job of promoting and tracking. I’ll make an exception and declare right now that their Internet ads won’t be the invasive kind. I’m glad your mom got to get to Chicago to survey the new living arrangements and such. I’d like us to get up there in short order, too. Keep me posted as to your availability. FYI…even a group like Fish makes a stop in the boondocks every once in a while. They visit here in the next couple of weeks or something like that. I still remember hauling you and a vanload of your boys to KC to a summer concert and being sold a total bill of goods as to when the concert started and, more importantly, when it would end.
Speaking of ending, that’s it for today. Let’s really nail down the holiday plans so I can get tickets while they are still getable. It would be great to have you all down here. I’ll notify the cleaning service to do their thing just before you arrive.