Friday, June 06, 2014

Bugs, Beauty and the Lessons of Now

I met this wee rooster on his fourth day.
At this exact annual moment, I always wonder what I am doing here. Doubt sneaks in to my brain like a thief trying to steal my vision, my resolve and any shreds of sanity laying about. Internal arguments ensue until physical exhaustion, social isolation and relentless bug trauma wear me down into a groove that I now know well.

More fun than the real thing.
Regarding insects, how is it that something so very miniscule can steal all the focus - can suddenly run your entire life? Oh, the invoked terror that comes with the high-tin buzz of one lone mosquito in a tiny RV bedroom! Or the slow realization that a wood tick is crawling somewhere it shouldn’t be, which is everywhere on my person. My now-robotic gesture of pinching, capturing and immediately drowning ticks is my only real form of defense. I once picked off two in the middle of a conference call without breaking my sentences. (I’m up to 5 today but my record is 8 in one day.) And don't even get me started on the gnats - loathsome bastards, every last one.

But when I come out on the other side of this dubious, buggy darkness, my eyes register the stunning beauty of the season.  I am surrounded by endless carpets of budding green fields, made orange every evening around 9:30 p.m. by a falling sun slowly diced even by a flat horizon. And though everyone here proclaims victory over dead dandelions, I find the sunny yellow dots endlessly charming. These prairie images leave me gobsmacked and my crush on North Dakota intensifies. Now, snug in the belly of the Mae Flower, I hear vigorous thunder from Canada.

Green and blue, everywhere.
As for the garden, between intermittent rain, bug swarms and an aching lower back, the planting isn’t happening over night. Like the real farmers around me, I often play the hurry-up-and-wait game, dependent on weather and soil conditions. But instead of an elaborate plan, like in previous years, I am going in relatively plan-less, with more focus on planting long-range crops first. Also, when my seeds were stolen last fall, it was a gut punch I hadn't let myself feel until recently. At the time I rationalized it – balance of the universe and such. “Bad things don’t happen to me that often,” I said bravely, “if this is my slice of Life Shit That Ain’t Fair, then I’ll take it.” I had successfully avoided my white hot rage, I dared think, but in reality, I'd only postponed it.

Just a few weeks ago, standing before a double rack of seeds at Echter's in Arvada, Colorado, I took a deep breath and began to peruse. I was exhausted, a bit hungover and emotionally detached; I just wanted to grab some seeds at random, then go. But the more seed names I recognized from my former stash, the tighter my lips and fists got. Clenching my teeth, the rage eeked out just a bit.

“Assholes,” I hissed. “JUNKIE FUCKERS!”

I had underestimated the emotional whack that loss delivered - it knocked the wind out of my agricultural sails. But I'm working to get it back. I bought a tobacco plant yesterday and the novelty of bringing back dried tobacco for smoking in LA tickles me to no end. Little tricks like this, y'see.

Brent, filling up the garden's water tank

Also, I'm now running the local Farmers Market, which is bizarre. The previous lead, my friend, Victoria, called me up over the winter with a request. "Please, please, PLEASE run it next year! You're much better than policing people than I am." A-hem. It's true that I lack that layer of Midwestern Nice that comes naturally to the locals, and I am not one to shy away from confrontation, but was I really the right person to take over?

Doesn't matter. It's already happening. Thankfully, we've got a Facebook group so communications are easy. I've already met with the Chamber of Commerce dude and we picked a more visible spot for it - no longer in the gorgeous City Park but right along Main Street. I've scheduled a vendor meeting, taken over the bank account and contracted my main squeeze to build me a sandwich board sign reading: "FARMERS MARKET OPEN TODAY" so wheels be turnin'.

I've never done any of this before but why let inexperience that get in the way of a juicy challenge? After all, isn't that why I've come here? To learn?

Ah, yes. Now I remember.....

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