“I’ll make you a deal,” I plead, cheerful optimism forced upon each syllable. “You go to sleep and stay asleep before the sun sets so I can have some garden time, and I’ll give you three extra kisses.”
It’s dim, but not dark. Just before eight o’clock. I rush outside. I want to dig the rest of the garlic before it rots where it’s buried. I see an ant sipping the wine of the Mexican Oregano.
The fading light leaves a squash blossom alit.
I check on the carrots, long shaded by last year’s hidden sweet potatoes.
And the leek’s getaway is complete.
I hear the backdoor creak open. My heart sinks.
“He’s asking for you. Do you want me to bring him down or do you want to go back up?”
I go back up. The irrational emotions flare with each step. I take a deep breath, lower my shoulders, and swallow them down until I’ve softened.
It’s nearly nine o’clock. I haven’t finished my dinner. I nearly sprint out the door, snatch up my trowel, and make a bee line for the garlic. Surrounded by liquefied chard leaves the garlic is doing its best to thwart the hunger that crawls around it, along it, but hopefully not through it.
I send the blade deep into the soil and pry. Each root gives one by one and at once. The soil clings heavy. The roots ching greedily. Tap, tap, tap – some falls. I drape the shoot over the edge of the bed and move on. Another. Slice. Pry. Tap.Tap.Tap. Drape. Again.
The pill bugs scatter. The slugs hold tight. An earthworm seemingly launches from the earth and frantically races toward blind freedom. I watch it a moment. Dropping soil gently down its length, I bury it.
It’s dark now. Ration has yet to return. Dinner is three hours cold. I’m depleted. Unable to find enjoyment in the moments of daylight spent outdoors, alone, I step past the dinner bowl discarded to feed others, tend to others, love on others.
An apple, a knife, and a jar of peanut butter usually does the trick. Here’s hoping.
It’s raining. And raining. And gloriously raining. Rain hits my roots like not much else. It trickles down the creases into the crevices of childhood, of nostalgia, of can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on-that. The most steadfast companion of my formative years, rain elicits responses automatic and familiar.
Cold rain finds me building a fire and simmering milk for cocoa. Sure, “cold” is a relative term and as I approach as many years in Texas as away from it (wow, already?) I’ll build a fire when it drops below 60.
Warm rain still catches me off guard. The AC is on, it’s dark out, and raining. Surely it’s chilly outside. But no. It’s tropical. A moist blanket.
Yet still I bake. Or in the case of the pie from the last of the freezer raspberries, my husband does (without a recipe?!)
Somehow baking in the heat of summer feels wasteful, yet the AC on in the rain of spring doesn’t feel the same.
I believe the tomatoes are finally done. Fitting, that they’d last until now, as this is the week I sow next year’s seedlings into the dark promises of starter pots.
After we arrived home most days, we’d go in the front door and straight through the house, climbing out the back door, hand wrapped around finger. I’d think about what needed tending where, but she would make the same loop each time. “Namayos? Namayos!”
Whether they were actually tomatoes, or sometimes reddened jalapenos, she didn’t much mind…until she selected one to sample. Jalapenos always came back out with a hand off to me and a simple “papa’s.” A paste tomato would follow suit. But oh, the Chadwick Cherry tomatoes. Off came the cap with a “yuck! bye bye” and into her mouth it went. “More?” could just be deciphered through a mouthful of tomato.
We were expecting our first freeze Monday night so I had to cut any dreams of vine ripening short. We harvested the final stragglers before I put (nearly all of) the vines out of their long-seasoned misery and into a wheel barrow.
We went out again, albeit without school this week it was mid afternoon, and had a good chat about how tomatoes don’t always grow. She looked to their beds, saw no vines, and went straight to the jalapenos (which I had yet to remove.)
“Namayos?” she inquired.
“Not in the winter, love, but soon,” I replied.
It’s not quite the fifty pounds from a few years back, but for the size of that planting and the size of this one I’d say it’s a tie. 28 pounds of sweet potatoes and I’m pretty sure I missed a few that dove down or escaped under the planks to the edging paths.
And while I felt a month late, apparently I’m 11 days earlier than 2012. Also, note to self: if you want to turn questionably nutritious soil into glorious earth sow sweet potatoes first. Now what to sow tomorrow to keep it lovely until spring?