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Tuesday, 31 July
En Garde(n)

While eating dinner tonight, I examined some wan cucumber slices and pointlessly remarked to the wife, "I didn't know how good I had it." She appropriately stared blankly.

I was thinking of the garden my mom maintained when I was a tot.

(Can you tell how exciting this post is going to be?!)

"I was just remembering our old vegetable garden when I was a kid," I explained.

(The excitement! You can smell it! It smells like . . . Bibb lettuce!)

"Oh," she said. Then I bored her senseless talking about my stupid fucking old garden. Now it's your turn!

(Bibb! BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIBB!)

Yeah, so we had a damn garden. My mother, who apparently as a lifelong RN feels the need to be even more nurturing, loves gardening. She loves gardening like some people love pornography. To my mother, the prospect of spending several back-wrecking hours in the beating sun lunging around in the fucking dirt is much like what other people experience when they go on a Thai Underage Orgasm Tour.

We moved to Idaho when I was eight or so, and I, of course, immediately hated the extensive garden my mother set up. This was mainly because I had to do shit like weed the son of a bitch and water it and otherwise, you know, do anything not involving watching television.

But I'll be damned if it wasn't some garden for all that. We grew (and this is just what I remember): corn, lettuce, carrots, radishes, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, peas, pickling cucumbers, regular cucumbers, Estonian derelict bluecumbers, garlic, pumpkins, gourds, fjords, House of Lords, strawberries, raspberries, halleberries, marionberries, barrywhites and bondbarrys, and on certain magical nights you could walk out to the garden and watch horrible actressberries jiving onstage and smoking crack with DC mayorberries while the smooth soul berrysounds echoed in the night and our genetically modified baseballberries creamed monstrous home run balls out into the adjoining fields, occasionally landing on and conking out one of our horses.

It was kind of a monstrous garden, is what I'm saying. And I had to weed the damn thing.

(You know? Not really. My mom the dirt maiden really did most of it, because she has brain damage, and likes it. I only very occasionally had to do it, but I'd snivel as if I had been ordered to eat my own kidneys. This is because children are basically the shits.)

And I had to water the thing.

(See previous parenthetical.)

But as the garden gradually went fucking nuts that summer, I started to see some benefits. Namely . . . holy shit, look at all that food!

We had this entirely freakish summer that year, with heat, heat and more heat that caused the majority of the garden prisoners to behave as if Demeter had descended from the skies and taken a divine shit on our soil. The corn was as high as an elephant's eye long before the fourth of July! The chives took lives from neighboring peasant wives! The tomatoes . . . well, the tomatoes just went fucking nuts, and pretty soon our kitchen was filled with boxes and boxes of these clear foes of Zero Population Growth, and were soon loaded into the car to give to friends of the families. We actually got tired of the stupid damn tomatoes, especially after they formed their own political party and began loudly speaking out against the "hegemony of bacon," but happily they all then rotted and died, and we fed them to the feral cats out in the barn, who didn't seem to enjoy them much either, but fuck the barn cats, was our attitude.

(Note early experimentation with Republican ideology! Cats: "Hey, how come we gotta eat this crap?" "I dunno. Stop living in a barn?")

The garden, once in full horticultural freakout, inspired me to some weird, compulsive habits. One was my utter and over-the-top voraciousness for peas right off the vine. I would defoliate (delegumiate?) entire rows of peas, leaving a damning Hansel-and-Gretel path of spent pods behind me. I was the Joe Stalin of peas that summer, and my mother would wail about this: "Stop eating all the peas, would you?" "You don't like it when I eat a bag of Doritos! Isn't it better that I eat these peas, then?" I would reply, causing her to wonder if she had taken one too many bong hits in '67. "You're being an asshole," she suggested. This reasoning was lost on me, and I continued to devastate the pea harvest. My mother gritted her teeth and accepted that I was, in fact, a creep, and sublimated her fury with nearly nonstop canning efforts involving vegetables that I was incapable of or unwilling to eat off the vine, such as the unappealing, mealy pickling cucumbers. (I tried to eat those too.)

Weirder than the peas thing was my garlic phase. For reasons that are best left unexamined, I developed a taste for eating raw garlic. Well, less eating it than simply gnawing on a clove of it, pried right off the plant, for hours at a time. (I'm guessing this ties in somehow with prior penchants for eating things such as raw potatoes, sticks of butter and cold hot dogs, but again, I prefer not to dwell on these memories.)

"I've had it," my father said one night. "You smell like . . . I don't know what you smell like. You smell like something I can't stand any more." When my father is heated up--and he was, a not-uncommon state--he's kind of scary. He leaned in to me, and gave me that ex-Marine look that still has the power to kind of freak me out. "Stop eating raw garlic. It's fucking disgusting."

"Okay," I said quietly. He was right, of course, and I'm sure I stank like low tide. This didn't mitigate against my resentment about being told off, or this shitty prohibition against my new favorite thing to gnaw on, or the fact that children are genetically programmed to hate their parents for entirely reasonable demands.

"Go water the garden now," said my dad.

"Fuck you," I said, under my breath, about fifty yards away from Dad having any chance of catching it.

I watered the stupid garden, and glared at it, knowing that soon I'd have to weed some stupid thing.

"Fuck you, garden," I said, a little more boldly. I was reasonably sure that the garden would not rise up against me, at least not in any physical manner. Also, Dad was still in the house.

I didn't know how good I had it.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

Wow, you had horses!??!?! AWESOME!!!11!!!!!!

Comment number: 014598   Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' on August 1, 2007 06:45 AM from IP: 152.17.53.83

I recommend a CSA: http://toltriverfarm.com/csa.php

Comment number: 014600   Posted by: You can call me 'My Lord' on August 1, 2007 07:39 AM from IP: 63.249.22.103

(I heartily second the CSA.)

We watch a lot of Food Network. Sometimes, we watch (and occasionally make fun of) Sandra Lee's "semi-homemade" show. Last night, I dropped by the network's site to check out what I'd heard were some scathing comments about her recipes.

There were, in fact, quite a few, but the best comment I saw was not at Sandra's expense. The recipe in question involved some goopy cheese sauce and/or bacon, etc. to dress up corn on the cob. Anyway, here's the feedback. I'm guessing these people didn't have a garden (I'm also guessing "chesse" is somewhere between cheese and Cheez.)

"Like the other reviewer, I found this corn to be too fancy. We often dip our corn in the traditional mac and chesse powder, which the kids really like. My family finds the chesse gets rid of the fresh corn taste, which they do not like."

Comment number: 014603   Posted by: parenthetical on August 1, 2007 12:28 PM from IP: 71.206.191.222

I bounce a little when I chuckle to myself. The daughter (15) must read this next.

Comment number: 014604   Posted by: Alyxmyself on August 1, 2007 01:14 PM from IP: 68.201.0.251

All I have to say is that I'm absolutely dying right now... *alyx's daughter* XD

Comment number: 014605   Posted by: Kogasha on August 1, 2007 01:22 PM from IP: 68.201.0.251

NOM NOM NOM.

Comment number: 014607   Posted by: Something new to gnaw on on August 1, 2007 07:46 PM from IP: 76.241.67.19

I grew up exactly like you! In fact, at this very moment I'm munching on organic heirloom tomatoes from my mom's garden. I don't live there anymore (they still do), but I remember as a kid feeling like I was forced into slave labor every early evening to pick green and wax beans, shell limas and husk the corn. Lima-shelling is the WORST.

Oh, and my horse just had a baby last month. She's adorable, if I do say so myself :)

Comment number: 014633   Posted by: Sta on August 7, 2007 06:57 AM from IP: 63.119.93.194

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