for a good cause.
The farmer who is kind enough to load his old hay on my trailer every spring lives just a mile from our house. He and his wife are the nicest sort of people, down to earth and full of country wisdom. Her voice message ends with a cheerful, “Leave a message… blessings!”
This spring when I made my trip for hay, I asked if I may pay for it, and he said, “No, no, just bring me some produce.” As I was driving past this summer I noticed that they have four times more garden than I do. We’re talking a field with like 96 pepper plants and I think they said 200 tomato plants and everything else you can imagine. So tonight when I was digging my red potatoes I thought, “You know what, I don’t think they have potatoes,” and I called them to check.
The farmer’s wife told me that her family makes her so mad because they don’t want to hill potatoes but she would love to have some fresh ones. She is in a wheelchair and can’t grow them herself. I told her I would bring them right down.
I didn’t have a vehicle because it’s in the garage for inspection and my husband is at work. It’s close enough to walk, but I decided to put my box of red potatoes in the basket of the little yellow moped that Gabriel bought this summer. I puttered down the road in the soft light, and all was mellow and lush. Just before the farmer’s lane the moped sputtered and I thought that I should have checked the gas tank, but I made it and parked it.
There was a considerable amount of racket in the yard because the farmer was doing some power washing and the little grandkids were talking to each other in their outside voices. I picked up my box of potatoes and walked up the hill around their vehicles. The dog saw me first, and then the other dog and the other dog and the other dog also saw me. To be truthful, I am not a dog lover at my core, although I’m not really afraid of them. I took a step back just from innate self-preservation, and bumped my leg against the large rocks bordering a flower bed. The dogs crowded closer, a huge black lab with a tongue the size of bread plate, a yellow nondescript mutt with a tail like a baseball bat, a shifty-eyed spotted one who stayed on the periphery and growled, and a very small terrier with a very large ego. I backed up a little further but there was nowhere to go because I was against those rocks. I completely lost my balance and sat down very gracefully in the flower bed, legs stuck out over the rocks, holding my box of potatoes aloft. Not one of them spilled. It was too bad that the farmer’s wife didn’t see me until I was down, because by then it was no longer graceful. I had four dogs crowding around my lap, and I was giggling helplessly, unable to pull myself up. Feebly waving my hand in front of my face so the black lab would stop licking me, I peddled my legs and let her know that I was okay.
Her two grandsons walked over and tried to call off the dogs while the farmer’s wife hollered at her husband who couldn’t hear a thing because the power washer was loud. The grandsons looked at the woman laughing in their flower bed and didn’t know what to do. One of them tentatively held out his hand, and I gave him the potatoes. They didn’t know I suffer from a condition that causes me to lose all control and giggle helplessly when I am in a ludicrous situation, but once the dogs were out of my lap, I struggled to my feet. I was still chortling, so the farmer’s wife knew that I wasn’t mad. She wheeled herself to a quieter spot in the yard, apologizing profusely all the way, even as the dogs continued to leap around and take stabbing licks at my face while the terrier barked. “What in the world is wrong with you?” she yelled. I have been blessed with a number of friends who have large dogs and they all seem to feel the same helplessness when their dogs don’t listen.
We ended up having a great chat under the shade tree where her family had piled the produce they picked in the garden. I felt a little despair in my heart when I saw the buckets of tomatoes, bushels of cabbages, gallons of cherry tomatoes, a half bushel of green peppers, and so on. I don’t know how she does it in a wheelchair, but she was cheerful about it and she was delighted with that box of red potatoes. The black dog eventually quit trying to lick me and sauntered to the backyard, but the yellow dog kept backing up until his tail was between my legs, whacking me hard as he wagged. It was quite ludicrous enough to send me off in another spasm of laughter, but I controlled myself. The shifty-eyed growler was gone, but the
terrorist terrier made a tight, barking arc around us every few minutes.
They told me about the neighborhood and how things used to be around here, and what farming is like now, about their family and they wanted to know about mine. Like I said, lovely people.
It was getting a little dark and I needed to moped on home. I prayed a desperate prayer that there would be enough gas in the tank, but this time the answer was no. Of all things, I had to walk back up the hill and there came the dogs! The farmer noticed right away and he was still nice. “Not a problem, happy to give it to you, anytime you need anything just ask.”
He sloshed in a few quarts, but that moped wouldn’t start. The two grandsons stood there and stared again as I vainly pumped the starter pedal, jiggled the choke button, and tried to remember if I was missing something crucial for the starting of a moped. Finally it coughed a bit and then it flooded. I pumped it some more. Nothing. The little boys drew closer in fascination. I got the feeling they were prepared to push it home for me. Finally, blessedly, it purred to life. I said good night and headed home in the twilight. Mission accomplished.
They said next year they will give me more hay and all the barnyard compost I want. I will have to brainstorm something awesome to grow so that I have it to give them in return. I wonder if they like eggplant?