Thursday, June 13, 2013

Grabbing For Bootstraps

My garlic
These past few days have been rough. Already teetering on a bluesy edge, I caught a bad cold Monday and got sucked right into a swirling vat of self-pity. I tell ya, feeling so shitty while being completely isolated, worrying about water, battling mosquitoes and picking f**king ticks off my body EVERY SINGLE DAY - well, it finally wore me out.

Image via TermiGuard
And so, come Tuesday, I broke down. Weeding the garlic and shallots, I burst into sobs. The rush of salty tears leaving dirt-streaks on my face felt terrible and wonderful all at once. (One of the benefits of being a woman: the tears come when they are ready, we've no delay mechanism like the menfolk.) At that moment, no matter that the watermelons, radishes and popcorn were coming through, all I could see were weeds. Woe is me, and whatnot.

I tried to be useful in my garden but it was hot, getting hotter, my head was full of snot and my body was being ravaged by insects. So, I said, "to hell with it" and went for a drive. I made up some excuse to myself about checking my mail in Cavalier, 18 miles away, to pick up my latest Netflix but really I just needed a breeze and a reason to sit still. Listening to kd lang's "Hymns of the 49th Parallel" CD (a stand-in for the lack of CBC Music this year - still a mystery), I felt sheepish and full of regret. What was I doing here? Does it matter? And why am I sacrificing my personal life if it makes no difference? 

Life: Green, sometimes black
But mostly, I thought, Today, this is HARD.

Such were my thoughts as I went along, drivin' and cryin', which is the best band name ever.

Today, I awoke feeling much better, though I had to deal with additional body issues (I'll spare ya) and the water pump whining that it was empty. So, before work, before breakfast, before anything, I had to start up the Tonka Truck and get the tank filled. Mission accomplished and I see a brighter day ahead for me, emotionally, though eventually I'll have to figure out what the hell is wrong with the awning.

I share this here because, for the three of you reading this, it's important to know that dark days descend just as effortlessly as the bright ones here on the farm. They say "misery loves company" but sometimes, when you are feeling pathetic and weepy, maybe it's just as well not to have witnesses.

However, yesterday  I did manage to squeeze in some high points before succumbing to sickness once again. In an effort to climb up out of the roiling pity pot, allow me to celebrate them here:

Positive Thing #1: As a contractor, I get paid by checks that come via USPS - direct deposit is not an option. (BlogHer paid me by PayPal but alas, that is now over.) When these highly-anticipated checks do come, I usually have to make the 103-mile round-trip drive to Grafton, the nearest Wells Fargo. Of course, this takes time and a considerable amount of gas, which is quite spendy for a 4WD pick-up with zero fuel efficiency. This year, we tried a new approach: Direct Deposit via Mom.

I kept my mailing address in Long Beach for the checks and Mama Iva made the 1.7-mile drive to the nearest WF and - presto! - she successfully deposited my millions. DONE. Hallelujuah!

Candy-striped flowers, also a positive.
Positive Thing #2: After soaking the seeds for 24 hours, I planted some parsnips, Turga variety. Parsnips are not appreciated like they should be - damn shame, I tell ya. The smell of cooked parsnips remind me of my Grandpa Wibur so I plant them in his honor. (Planting wet seeds in the wind MUCH easier than doing the same with dry seeds, just FYI.) Also, I planted some dill too - hope to sell a bunch come pickling time.

Tail end of a parsnip, from last year's harvest
Positive Thing #3: Brent invited me to ride along for a Pinto bean planting session on our land. Thanks to him, I've witnessed up close several aspects of industrial farming, including a Pinto bean harvest, but never a planting. The late floods are the only reason I am able to see them now.

Seeder, in action
This week is the final last-ditch effort by local farmers to get their seed in. Brent had been informed by the holder of his bean contract that the planting deadlines had been extended to June 20, so better get 'em in, pronto.

Brent, seeding Pinto beans
There, in the John Deere cab, I learned about seed plates that must be changed for every crop - they work similar to metal discs that go into player pianos, with holes and groves that convey a pattern. I pointed to things - "Brent, what's that long bent green arm thingy with the little tire on the end?" - while Brent explained - "It's called a 'marker', it's what we used before GPS came along. It marks where you're already planted."

Marker 'arm'

He then lowers the marker, just for my benefit, so I can the function in action. He nearly forgot about it when it came time to make a turn. Ooops!

Best of all, my lesson went down in view of our farm, gloriously awash in that golden, late-afternoon sun, which is about 7:30 p.m. here. 

Brent, in his office
Positive Thing #4: I briefly chatted with my cousins, Mark and Wayne, whom I really like.  They'd come to "the yard" - the area of our farm which is forever playing host to any number of giant farm vehicles - so we caught up a bit. Despite the terrible floods, they have managed to plant 80% of their fields - much better than I'd expected. 

Jack, the bar pup
Positive Thing #5: I got to pet three - count 'em - THREE dogs! First, there was Cash, Wayne's black lab who came bounding up to me while I toiled in the garden, battling thistles in the watermelon patch. Then, there was Abbey, the Great Dane, who never left the bed of Wayne's pick-up but was open for head scratches. And then there was was Jack, a sweet pup who I met outside the Western Bar in Neche. Later, he was let inside and I snuck him some pizza crust. Such a gentle boy. (Dogs do a lot of mental good for me; not having one is a bad idea that must be fixed in 2014.)  

Positive Thing #6: Though my beloved LA Kings did not make the Stanley Cup Finals (still proud with their double-overtime performance against the Chicago Blackhawks) I did enjoy more incredible hockey last night. Plopped down in the Western Bar (which has come to be my favorite local watering hole), I tried to keep a "hockey date" with Kirk, whereby we watch the same game while texting fired-up expletives all the way through. It's a gas.

Note: Deer antlers in the red box
In the first game of the Finals - Chicago Blackhawks v. Boston Bruins (Kirk's team) - I could see it wasn't going to be an easy win for either. Though I'd made a new friend (see "Jack" above), my head was getting dizzy and the snot level was rising; it was hard to breathe. Before I left my stool late in to the third period to run home to my Nyquil, the game was nowhere near over.

Ultimately, the heated match went into triple overtime and ended up being the fifth longest game in Stanley Cup history - so glad I got to see at least some of that beautiful madness in play. Thus, I went home pondering the reality that most great victories do not come easily.

So, I guess I'll give it another try tomorrow.


Maria said...

I can assure you in the corporate world there are many such days...especially lately for me. Though no ticks. Those do suck - at least unlikely to have Lime there

Anonymous said...

You only can do what you can do. And, by the way, you are doing an amazing job McFeather. You are bringing this life that most Americans are divorced from into our awareness. your contribution is huge. You just can"t see it yet.


Heather Clisby said...

Both of these perspectives help tremendously.

Maria: You are right - how could I forget this? I spent many a day wondering if anything I did made a difference, what am I doing here? - and so on. Guess those moods will come no matter what location.

McSchmoinkles: As I toil in my garden today, I'm just going to replay your words in my mind over and over. THANK YOU.

quirkychick said...

Hope this week is a better one and that you are feeling well.

Your grown stuff looks amazing!

Even if the grow season is late this year you are filling your fodder banks with the rich soil of stories that do matter - not just what you are growing, but what you are experiencing, witnessing and sharing. Germinating and sprouting is much harder than we realize.

Love you friend!

Heather Clisby said...

You are so wise and dead right about all of it; it's not just about growing plants, it's about the richness of the experience.

And also, weeding - lots and lots of weeding....

Thanks for the support, my dear!