Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Joys of U-Pick

There’s just something about a perfect pumpkin sitting on the front stoop this time of year. I found one I couldn’t resist at a new truck farm nearby.  It’s called “Grove City Gardens,” and it’s located on a country road that winds through flood irrigated pastures that, regrettably, are more and more turning into houses. 

This garden makes good use of a proposed subdivision that is waiting out the recession. The corn and pumpkins, peppers and melons, wind around a paved culdesac. What was intended for housing has made a perfect access and parking for “whole food” customers.  Growing food will always win out in my mind when contemplating what to do with open ground.  I hear that big cities are discovering the same thing. 

I came to get freezing corn – and one dozen just to eat. The proprietor recommended a white/yellow variety - luscious long ears that snapped firmly from the stalk.  I enjoyed gathering up seven dozen and then walked through the rest of his wares.  Cantaloupe and watermelon had been frosted just a little.  Nothing like cantaloupe fresh off the vine.  The cucumbers were past now, but the peppers hung in bright red and green holiday colors.  Several rows of feathery asparagus spoke of next spring’s harvest - and beyond that the raspberry patch.

I marvel at the work put in to the garden.  Drip lines coursed throughout, and they even had light fabric rolled up at the end of some of the rows with brick weights on it, a frost precaution that was used last week.

And then I spied the pumpkins. The frost had dampened the enthusiasm of the vines, so I could see the fruit exposed in their brilliant fall glory – the spicy orange that defines the season.  The little gal that checked me out figured my selection was a 30 pounder, but I’m guessing it was more.

Now as I write, the corn is shucked and the water is on to boil.  Time to bring in the harvest.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

As Summer Ends

It is September - magic month. The irrigated pastures are still a brilliant green, but all is edged in gold. The world rushes to set seed, the annuals finishing their life cycle,  the perennials battening down for winter. Things have slowed down a bit on the ranch. We’re soaking up these last indian summer days, finding odds and ends chores before the varied autumn work that awaits a ranch as the days get shorter.

My husband was working on the garage today, a sure sign of Fall.  We’ve been in our “new” house for ten years now and there are still those projects hanging over us, like finishing the garage walls that we should have let the contractor do back when we built the house. 

I had been visiting my folks who live about 10 miles from here. I took Mom a bouquet of black-eyed susans, maroon chokecherry leaves, orange and rust blanket flowers – and the star of the bouquet, rabbit brush in full golden bloom. She didn’t actually see the bouquet though, as she is bed-bound and not that interested anymore. At 88, she is winding down.  Like a gray-headed dandelion, she waits for the next tender breeze to lift her gently away to parts unknown - to float, her mind clear again. And so I visit often, coming home each time a little subdued. Mark knows only to ask, “how were things today?”

So after I had busied myself for a few minutes, pre-heating the oven for supper and letting the dogs loose for their evening run, I went to him and hugged his warm and familiar chest. 

“Here, listen to this,” he said, pulling his ipod out of his shirt pocket and finding a song.

He tucked one ear phone in my ear and left one in his.  I was expecting something sad and heartfelt, but no, it was upbeat.  The Drifters sang,  “when I’m in your embrace, something happens to me that’s some kind of wonderful.”

We swayed in time with the music and I felt the familiar rush of this man who understands me - who forgives me. And my world was perfect.

rabbit brush frames the chicken coop

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lunch at Ginger's

It’s located on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. No debit or credit cards accepted. The service is a bit slow, but the home cooked rations make you forget lunch hour took a bit longer today.

A flag hangs out front. We are greeted by three reservation dogs – harmless. Ginger, in a colorful mumu, brings us coffee by the thermos full. Wednesday’s soup is ham and beans, heavy on the ham. The dogs lie on the stoop as if waiting for their owners, which we aren’t of course.
We are summering a few cows and calves on the reservation, and when we check on them, we often take a respite at the local café. One day we met our friend Alan there. He was making a run to Pocatello for a hay mower part for our ranch. He is a mechanic extraordinaire and we rely on his skills regularly. He teaches school nearby, but has recently accepted a job in Boise. It is a good move for him and his family, but we will sorely miss him. He has unselfishly donated a million plus hours to our ranch as a mechanic, not to mention castrating a few hundred calves each spring.

On the wall of the café is a poster of “Desiderata.” Remember that one? I think it was set to music and was popular during my high school years. The phrases are familiar but catch me off guard. 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

Maybe it’s the change of seasons, our friend’s leaving, his excitement about the moving preparations - whatever it is, the words blur and I find I cannot read more than a couple of lines at a time before the tears well up.

For the last twenty years or so, Alan has been helping us on the ranch. Teaching school is a stressful occupation and his wife told me once that he needed to be on the ranch to get back on an even keel. He would leave home cranky and return in good spirits. Lately the stress at work had gotten to be too much for him. Under appreciated, his ag program reeling with budget cuts, he has taken a job in a well funded district where he can specialize in teaching mechanics. They have family in Boise and it just makes good sense to move on. 
And so we will wish him well and God speed.  

. . . whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Words to live by. Words to wish a good friend adieu by.