Due to budgetary constraints, clothing is not high on my list of discretionary purchases. Shoes don’t even make the list. I know, it’s a gender anomaly but I have a lot of them. Most of my gardening shoes are $3 canvas flats from back in the days when you could still get canvas flats for $3 on clearance at the end of summer. Needless to say, I haven’t purchased any in recent years.
The above photo is representative of my collection. You will note that I have air-conditioning vents in the north, east and west walls. Both soles are also split just under my toes making it plum squishy when I encounter water.
The shoes are in great shape compared to the pair of shorts I was wearing when taking this photo. Formerly black, they are now gray with freckles sprinkled across the front from some unremembered incident involving spray bleach. A hole big enough for my thumb vents the left hip, elastic peeks out of the waistband and the southernmost back seam is about to bust out. I look at it this way – it covers my essential nakedness – and any discretionary income I manage to cobble together is going to be spent on seeds or a new plant from the Down-and-Out-but-Not-Quite-Dead Table at Lowes.
Now that you understand my priorities for discretionary spending, please don’t point at me in Wal-Mart. I am already under gawking scrutiny from the neighbors. For instance, I probably did not get this shoe photo without considerable cost to my reputation. Privacy fencing in rural neighborhoods is cost-prohibitive and outdoor activities fall victim to public consumption. I know this because I have, myself, wished to occasionally perform a little binocular surveillance on the neighbors. Alas, I do not own a pair of binoculars. Whether or not the neighbors own binoculars is irrelevant because most of them have installed barking dog alerts to make sure they don’t miss the latest installment on your particular perversions. In all likelihood, the barking dog alert caused Country Boy, my next door neighbor in an easterly sort of way, to look out the window and call his wife over to help him gape in astonishment.
“Come ‘ere Honey an’ lookee what that crazy girl’s doin’ now. She’s sittin’ in a lawn chair takin’ a pitcher of her feet! Now what in tarnation you rekkon she’s gonna do with that?”
At least he didn’t fly out the door and start hollering at me as the screen door banged shut behind him. On those occasions when I know I’m doing something stupid, I prefer to pretend that I haven’t been caught in the act.
My cousin asked me what I did about bugs in my new 12×25 spring garden plot.
“I don’t have bugs,” I replied, my brows knitting together quizzically.
God love him, he didn’t point out my naiveté and I learned the hard way that it takes a while for the bug population to recognize your garden plot as an address.
My plot went on the bug radar over the summer.
By the fall, my poor little garden had become one of the most popular landing strips in the neighborhood. The bok choy looks like a rabbit, raccoon or opossum stood up on its haunches, aimed a sling shot down the row and shot holes through the tops of all the bok choy. Why couldn’t the critters pick out one or two bok choy and gnaw them to the ground? Why all the splashy holes?
The cherry tomatoes, sigh, are under attack by tomato horn worms and two other unidentified assailants. What are these ant-like things with red bodies [click photo for slideshow]? How about the bugs wearing medieval armor (please note the miniature black bra on their orange backs)?
What’s the solution? Do you plow up a new plot of ground every season in an effort to thwart the air traffic controllers of the bug and critter kingdom? Yeah, yeah, I know I should be grateful that I’m picking tomatoes in December but I long for the Better Homes & Garden perfection of that spring garden.
My cabbage is heading up. I had a bad case of cabbage envy last January when I discovered that my neighbor with the bees, chickens, and the dog named Chance, had grown a winter vegetable garden. His cabbage were the most beautiful I had ever seen because I’m a fan of those dark green leaves that you never see in the grocery store.
Not particularly fond of cabbage, he gave me a few and I kept going back for more while promising to grow my own in the fall. Other than lettuce and bunching onions, I had not attempted a fall garden because Momma said it wasn’t worth the bother. I should have known. She’s been famously wrong before. She couldn’t have possibly been more wrong about the spelling of Wednesday back when I was a first grader.
Following my neighbor’s example, I now have bok choy, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, collards, onions, radishes, radicchio, shallots, sweet potatoes, turnips and cabbage in my garden.
I first told a close friend about my cabbage heading up and she asked, “Do they head up by themselves?” I don’t know what she thought I could do if the cabbage failed to cooperate. Point a gun down the row of cabbage and bark, “Head up or else?”
Her question and a few of my own batty questions sent out to the internet demonstrate just how far we have separated ourselves from our food.