Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Fragility of Life

Or: Don't Put All Your Hopes In One Watermelon

Well, being that it's the height of summer, I suppose everyone's garden is bursting forth with excessive bounty. Right?

I wouldn't know.

Not that I don't have a garden. I do. Well, kind of. Let's put it this way, there's a garden on my property. I don't really consider it "my garden". Here's the story...

After we bought our property, there was kind of a general family consensus - extended family, that is - that our place would be a great spot for a sort of communal garden. Being the hippie sort that I am, I was all up for the idea. At first. Not that I'm against the idea now - that's not it at all. What is it? Well, a combination of things...

First would be paying the mortgage. See, there's this big, fat - really big, fat - mortgage bill that comes due every month. And, unfortunately, someone has to pay it. That someone would be us. I mean, not you and me, hubby and me. So, in order to pay the mortgage, there's this whole messy business of having a job. Strike one against the garden.

Next - I think I may have mentioned this before - but I live in a behemoth of an old farm house. You know, the one with a leaky roof and no heat in the winter? That one. And it would be one thing if I lived in it alone. But no, I share this delightful abode with a husband, two teenagers, two dogs, and three cats. All inside. Like within the walls. With all their assorted stuff, habits and hairballs. So, when the choice of "Shall I go weed that garden for an hour?" or "I have to wash the flippin flappin laundry - that was sitting in a basket waiting to be folded - again because one of the cats decided it would be a better spot to pee than the litter box!" comes up, the garden has to go on hold.

And then there's the whole thing that when I finally decide to break away from all this other crap, do I really want to spend my time bent over, standing out in the hot sun, playing Russian Roulette with the weather? How about I spend precious time that could go to painting the living room - I love to piant - digging around in the dirt, getting sunburned and bitten by mosquitoes so all of my hard work can be wiped out by 8 straight weeks of no rain and tempertaures in the 150's? Or, alternatively, 8 straight weeks of rain and temperatures hovering just above Absolute Zero? Um, no. The answer is no.

And last, but by no means least, there is the power struggle. I have a husband - who would plow the garden with an organically grown, grass fed horse - trying to garden with his brother who would spray Round-Up on all the paths between the plants. To me, this garden is somewhat akin to a small African nation. You never know who is going to be in power and I'm willing to hide in the forest so as not to get my head lopped off with a machete. Or chain saw. Leaking oil.

It is because of all this that I take my delight in my kitchen compost pile.

It doesn't get any easier than this. I put all my scraps in a bucket, and take it to a corner of what I think used to be a little kichen garden at some previous point in the history of our farm, and dump it. That's it. I don't expect anything. The funny thing is, since I don't really compost correctly and turn it ever like a good girl should, there are often things growing out of the pile. For instance, I have seen a healthy crop of garlic, decorative gourds and...

a Watermelon!

Well, the beginnings of a watermelon. It was about as big as a hacky sack. (I'm not too much of a hippie, am I?) So cute! My precious little watermelon.

And that is when I made the mistake I try not to make with growing produce. I got attached to it. I would check on it, making sure it wasn't getting attacked by the bugs that were vexing my husband and brother-in-law in the "real" garden. I would turn it once in a while to make sure the bottom didn't start to rot. I would lovingly caress it and talk about what college it might want to attend. Oh, the dreams we had!


Then, one fateful night, it all came to an end. I would like to say it came to a juicy, delicious end but that's not the case. Well, as least I wouldn't know if it was.

You see, on that dark and dreary night - I can still barely talk about it - I was finishing up milking the goat and took the milk inside. I came back out to put the goat in her pen and she was on her way to the compost pile. I hightailed it after her. She ran. I ran. She ran faster. I ran faster. She could hear me bearing down on her, my breath hot on her hindquarters. (This all took place over the space of about 20 feet, by the way.) She leaped into the compost pile just as I grabbed her harness. She locked her legs in that stubborn way she does when all she wants to do is wander around and eat instead of going to bed. I locked my legs and heaved with all my might. She budged. I began the step-heave method I've come to know as my routine for putting the goat away.


Through the compost pile.


I knew immediately what the squish was. I couldn't look down for I knew - I knew! - my beloved little watermelon was gone.

And, to add insult to injury, as soon as I stepped off my watermelon - Oh! Little Watermelon! You never even had a chance! - as SOON as I stepped off of it, the goat snatched it up in her evil little head and ate it.


I never had the urge to beat livestock before but I can see how it can happen.

I put the goat in her pen, called her some unflattering names, and went in.

After a while, I began to look at this in a philosophical sort of way. I tried to control the watermelon. I wanted it to be mine. It was taken from me. There you go.

So, instead of trying to control the goat, I am going to practice letting things be. I left her loose on Interstate 81 this morning.

Just kidding.

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