Monday, July 2, 2007
Weeding in the Dark
Now I know I really belong in the country. I’m dedicated to my garden. Right after supper it started pouring. The pool looked like it was boiling and puffs of dust, like smoke, were rising in the barnyard. We needed the rain. It’s been drought-like here. Not conducive conditions for weeding. The dirt was like concrete.
But I saw my chance. The rain stopped almost as fast as it started. I hurried up and finished the supper dishes, started the coffee and went out there. It was dusk. It would get dark soon. But it’s easier to weed after it rains. The clover and crabgrass come out in soft red clumps. Besides, Effie reprimanded me the last time she drove by in her old turquoise pickup truck and caught me weeding in the high noon sun.
“Dang girl, what do you want to kill yourself?” she said, leaning out the truck window.
I had to admit, I was dying out there. I stood up and felt dizzy. I promised her I would go inside in a minute. Just a little bit more. I finished the side behind the yellow roses and went in the house. I looked in the mirror and jumped back. My face was purple. Brownish purple. I got a bad sunburn that was turning tan already. I was cooked. That’ll teach me.
But after I took a shower and cooled down, my face was pure white again. Not a trace of a burn. Not even a rosy glow. That was no sunburn! I was obviously getting ready to have a heart attack weeding in that bright sun. Luckily Effie happened to be driving by!
After the rain stopped, steam was coming up from the driveway. I got the yellow cushion for my knees that Kurt bought me the last time he was in Lowe’s. He called me up on the way home and said he had a surprise for me.
“Ice cream?” I asked.
“Nope. Something better.”
“I don’t know,” I scratched my head. “I don’t care for diamonds.”
“A cushion! One of those cushions you lean on with your knees when you’re weeding!”
I was so happy because the towel wasn’t working well. Luckily Kurt is a big believer in having the proper equipment for whatever you’re doing, which is the reason we have a tractor farmers whistle at, 7 saddles but only 4 horses, (the extras for various disciplines we’ve tried on horseback,) and 4 sleeping bags, 3 tents, 2 lanterns and a Coleman stove even though we’ve only gone camping once. He says the proper equipment is half the battle.
So I got the knee-pad, my little shovel and went to work. I didn’t bother with the gloves because they’d get soaked right away and defeat the whole purpose. So what if I got dirt under my fingernails? It’s good dirt. I kind of like getting farm dirt on me. I like going down to the Minute Market in my camouflage sweatpants and work boots, t-shirt with the barrel racer on it, hair in a pony tail like a blonde Gretchen Wilson and picking up a salt lick or some diesel. You can tell I’m doing serious farm work. I’ve got hair on my shirt and hay in my hair. And my fingernails are dirty.
It was getting dark fast so I hurried. But then Pearl and Eldon came home and I had to stop and bring them over some of my spaghetti. It’s not regular spaghetti and something I’m sure my neighbors have never tasted before, but it’s one of my specialties and it reminds me of being on a farm. When I was a little girl, my mother’s best friend, Alice, took me out of the city for a week to her sister’s farm in upstate New York. I had such a good time up there—it’s Alice’s fault that I turned out to be a farm girl.
I was mesmerized by Alice’s sister Jeannie’s garden and so she sent me out to go and pick a big zucchini for supper. She fried it up with garlic in olive oil. She added sliced black olives, parmesan cheese and garlic salt. She mixed it all up in a big pot of spaghetti and fed it to all 12 of us kids—hers, Alice’s, the other sister’s and most of the adults. Now every time I see a zucchini, I think of that time and though Kurt won’t eat any green vegetables except green beans and broccoli, and has passed on his bad habits to Kelly due to the fact that he refuses to be a responsible father and pretend he likes these things, I make the same recipe a couple of times every summer. And I eat most of it myself.
But since Pearl had given me some zucchini from her garden, I had to do the country thing and reciprocate. I put a little extra salt on theirs and brought it over. Then Kelly had to come. She ran to get her flip-flops. Then I realized the dog was loose and he’d follow us over and could get hit by a car. So I ran and got his leash. Then, Lovely, the barn cat tried to come and I had to stop and shoo her back.
After chatting for a little while with Pearl and Eldon, I made it back to the tomatoes and got busy. Toads were making a racket and my hand almost fell on a neon blue lizard. He wiggled away and disappeared under the garage. Kelly and the dog went in the house and I tried to speed it up. It was getting hard to see.
When the bats came out, I thought about getting a light. I considered laying a flashlight down on the ground. The weeds were coming out so nice and easy, I didn’t want to stop. But then Effie came by. She leaned out her truck window and squinted.
“Good day! What in the world are you doing out there girl?”
I stood up and blew the hair out of my face. “Uh…weeding?”
“In the middle of the night?”
“Well, it’s not exactly the middle of the night. You said not to do it in the middle of the day.”
“Ya’ll gonna get eaten alive!”
I promised her I would go inside in a minute. Just a little bit more. I kept going until I was up to the strawberries and then it was too dark. I went in the house and reported that I was almost all done. I wouldn’t have to go out and weed in that hot sun tomorrow. I’d paint the barn instead.