Saturday, July 30, 2011

This world is so strange a place

This morning, after about two weeks of muttering words like ‘ghetto’ and ‘crap-apples’ and ‘hippie hillbilly white-trash garbage house’, I cleaned up the front planter boxes and surrounding area a bit (it was a tad disheveled)…naturally, this involved shovels and the wheelbarrow because when do I ever do ANYTHING around here that does not?

I pulled out so many weeds that they overfilled the newly-empty tumble composter. Then I realized that a couple of the potato plants in the front box were officially “died back,” and started digging, gently so as to avoid ripping up the other potato plants…digging and digging and digging.

I was finding nothing but little tiny nub-potatoes, not even big enough to be ‘new’ potatoes. And I’d just pretty much given up when suddenly…ah-ha. A couple “full sized” new potatoes. And then a couple more.

And then, four big old full-sized Russet potatoes. Score!

And a half dozen red potatoes. Double score!

The two ‘bonus’ onions (seeds that over-wintered and suddenly were all, “Oh, yeah, knew we forgot something! and became plants) were ready to come out, so I dug those up as well…one beautiful, perfectly round little globe, and one that apparently only developed along half of itself.

Then I gently encouraged the front tomatoes to go up the tower, instead of sprawling like indolent teenagers all over their beds. We have standards around here.

Five zucchini. Two yellow straight-necked squash. Added to a summer squash stockpile that, if properly preserved, will see us through at least five winters and possibly be the solution for world frickin’ hunger because there is no vegetable that will make you feel like a thumping AWESOME gardener like a healthy zucchini bush.

It is a gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving, and giving, and…

And then…I picked up Danger Mouse from her Girl Scout garden, because she had a big ‘Can You Dig It’ thing today.

It felt weird, walking up to this community-style garden where (I imagined) clean mothers in clean shoes and mud-free socks were chatting with each other…me, with my jeans already filthy before noon, with potato-digging dirt still under my fingernails in spite of a good hard scrub with the nail brush before I left the house, with my back on fire and my hip already yelping from the shoveling and wheelbarrow-pushing (potato box needed more dirt, and the strip needed wood chips) (I find they are not only good mulch, but excellent cat-pooping deterrents…must feel scratchy on their little behinds, bwa-ha-ha), my forearms turning red and bumpy and itching like the very devil because I touched the tomatoes (only fresh-cut grass makes me itch more than a tomato plant will).

So strange that this “special outing” place is every-day-and-night chores for me.

Strange that for some of these kids, this may be the only real exposure they have to food growing right in front of them. Not as likely out in our area, one hopes…and yet, the world is strange. You can walk less than a quarter mile from my house and be in a corn field; make it a mile, and you’re walking through tomatoes, or rye, or vineyards, or shell beans.

AND YET…there are children living in this place who will never see it. Even if they drive past it every day, twice.

Even if they look right at it, glancing up from their in-car entertainment between soccer and piano lessons at the rippling green stuff outside the window.

They just won’t see it.

Sometimes, I worry that curiosity is dead; when I watch the new kids come into the work place and they just lack that spark, the inquisitive nature, the desire to just know something, for the sake of knowing it. Where did this come from, and how, and why…and they don’t understand why I would want to know. “It is not our bug” or “it comes from the other group” – enough said, enough known.

Yes…but…how? Why? Where did they get it?

And it’s not just there. Where did this apple come from? And how? And why? How does a seed become a plant, how does a plant become food, how does a grain become flour and how does flour become pasta? Who on earth figured out how to make that, and why? (Seriously, why? Pasta is downright fiddly, and wheat isn’t a crop that requires that level of fiddly to be preserved.)

NATURALLY, growing all this food and talking about growing food at the Girl Scout garden and then coming home and sorting food around (my big task for this ‘vacation’ thing is around getting organized, because I am so far from organized right now that it has ceased being funny and has actually moved on to being dangerous), and thinking about food-sourcing and pondering the nature of pasta led me to the decision that I would die if I didn’t order in some pizza.

But I couldn’t find a coupon circular. Apparently, I got overly enthusiastic when disposing of the recycling and ditched it.

So I went online, but they didn’t have the coupon I wanted, the one I knew I’d read in the circular not three days ago, I knew I had, I could recite everything on it, but I didn’t have the code…and the store didn’t know the code, and I was all, I am SO not ordering without that coupon because even addicts have some pride.

And then I saw, on their website, that they have a phone app… ‘get your local area deals,’ the banner said…

…and I thought…oh, no, this can’t be…

So I got the app. And sure enough, the coupon codes that were not on the main corporate website, were available through the app.

I just used my phone to order a pizza…without talking to anybody.

It is a strange, strange world…and sometimes, I feel like a complete stranger in it.

1 comment:

Kate said...

I don't know that it's a youth thing, although I think an environment that doesn't allow for boredom certainly dulls that urge. But I am probably of an age with those new kids you're talking about, and I have that need to know why, how, to make patterns and trace reasons. I was shocked when I started working in an office that not only do other people not WANT to do that, lots of them CAN'T. Can't make the connection between someone asking if the restaurant down the road is good to the fact that if they are now not at their desk, they are probably out for lunch. That if John was talking about x product, and someone has called to ask about that, that John might be a good person to ask.

I didn't realise it was a special skill. And, I mean... my sister is a bright spark, and yet I consistently have conversations with her that go:
Me: you know, office works? The big yellow building? On the corner of the two main roads that you drive down every day?
Her: blank look.

I find, too, as a crafter and gardener, that there's a complete disconnect between primary sources and products, in people's minds. I mean, someone might know that bread is made from wheat, but look at you funny when you say you made bread. I had a colleague actually laugh out loud and say 'you can't MAKE bread rolls!' Um... what? Likewise, a jumper is a jumper. It grows on a jumper tree, or something. It comes fully formed and perfect. You can't KNIT one!

Mind you, plenty of things whizz past my powers of observation, and I still think that light switches basically work with magic, so... glass houses and all that.