Monday, March 17, 2014

Past Lives/Present Dreams

           It was St. Patty’s day and I honestly didn’t know it. Closest I’d come to a calendar this day was when Thurman called to ask “What are you doing right now?” (It’s always the “right now” part that tells me I’m about to have a garden task.)

            “I’m sitting here talking to my neighbor who just sold her house.”
            (“Hi, Thurman!” my neighbor hollers from her side of the couch.)
            It was a bittersweet conversation Thurman interrupted. On the one hand, I am very sad to lose my neighbor. She’s been the best possible neighbor a country girl could hope for. On the other, she’s starting a new chapter in her life, with great things ahead so I’m excited for her while at the same time feeling pity for myself. (Though she assures me I will like the new neighbors …that they have chickens! Something I’ve resisted getting into, mostly because I like to eat chicken and was afraid if I allowed myself any, they'd soon have names and then I would never be able to eat chicken again, which would mean the end to about half my cookbook recipes….But I do welcome the eggs and will gladly spot them a Pyrenees pup should their birds need protecting.)
            Meanwhile, Thurman’s call was to inform me that “according to the almanac” it was time to get my sweet potatoes bedded. For those of you who don’t know what this means, it’s what you do to last year’s sweet potatoes in order to grow new ones this year.
            Thurman had already walked me through this processes a few days ago, though I asked that he please stop by to make sure I was doing it right. First off, you take a big ol tub and fill it with dirt (well, not totally full, but enough to get your taters covered). Next you pull from your stash (kept in baskets in the basement all winter where it’s cool), the potatoes with the best eyes…(i.e. the root things that sprig off of your taters. This will become the thing you plant.) You stick your taters in the tub o’ dirt (about 3 – 4” deep) and you pull the entire operation outside so as to get ‘em started.  You make sure to poke holes in the bottom of your plastic bin so they can drain and breathe. It’ll be May before I plant these things, so they have time to sprout. (We call these “slips”.) The good news is, my soil grows great sweet potatoes mostly because they need good drainage, and for reasons I don’t quite understand, my soil is sandier than Thurman’s so things like sweet potatoes and watermelons grow particularly well.
            Having reviewed all the steps, my phone alarm went off, reminding me I had a meeting to get to in the city. Having packed the jeep, I raced into Nashville, where later I would meet up with some old friends whose jobs involved politics, a topic I now watch with casual interest. As I listened to this think tank of professionals discussing the next fleet of mayoral candidates to keep Nashville on its upward trend (for Nashville is THE hot place to be right now) all I could think about was how different the life I’m living these days. Where once I loved nothing more than getting the scoop around a Jimmy Kelly’s table, how impressed would these guys be to know today’s big scoop involved a plastic bin and a call from Thurman? Where yesterday’s dirt was tied to shady politicians, today’s dirt is literally under my fingernails. There’s still plenty of mud-slinging in my world, but these days, it just comes with the rains. And where once I lived for these “Whadayahear?” moments where campaigns are crafted or candidates crucified, I laugh as it hits me, my last undercover operation involved a plastic bin with holes poked in it, and the only thing getting bedded are a few innocent, orange taters.

            There's something to be said for good, clean living.
(Turns out Green Acres really IS the place to be~)

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