Friday, September 16, 2011
Disclaimer: I'm being a bad boy this time. I'm posting this one without editorial review. We've been busy, again, at work, and I expect I'll (1) have my hand slapped Monday, and (2) have edits directly after that. Nonetheless...
I knew this moon was going to be a rough one, and if I go into the details of those problems, I'll only serve to bore you and anger me. Again.
That morning, after coffee, I sought to center myself by tweeting the framework of a story, a true story, though I doubt anyone recalls it but me now. Yes, I'm that old. What else would account for the general state of my grumpiness? Just hush.
I was thinking to reframe it as more complete prose, but now, I guess I'm just too lazy. Here you go.
1969 was a tumultuous year. Even if you didn't live through it, you probably heard the stories. Looking back, I wonder how we survived.
I was half way through my 16th year that summer, Bro was three months into his 10th, and we had sweet potatoes to chop.
You're probably wondering if we'd forgotten everything Tink ever taught us, what with chopping potatoes. Yes, we were really chopping weeds.
Specifically, we were chopping the weeds out of the potatoes. We just needed an economy of language so as to not use up all the words.
Remember, this was 1969, and we didn't have as many words back then as we do now. We had to use what we had sparingly lest we run out.
There was little worse then than being found guilty of wanton waste of vocabulary. Well, except sex out of wedlock. And salt on watermelon.
The field with the weeds threatening to overtake the potatoes was the five acre field over by Pollyanna's house. You probably remember it.
You probably remember it because of the rented tobacco barn that burned by the edge of the field over to the side with Pollyanna's house.
It was a two-alarm fire that was allowed to finish burning so the cleanup would be easier. The heat destroyed a semi-circle in the field.
Of course, there were few, if any, weeds in the field. Only the occasional piece of Lamb's Quarter that we could have eaten if we had known.
But it wouldn't be fitting to eat a weed, even if it was a green. A proper green must be planted and cultivated, not found somewhere.
Besides, if Bro and I weren't out chopping those weeds, we'd be left idle, and that would surely come to no good. We might go fishing.
And so it was that we were in the 1959 pink Rambler with pushbutton drive headed to the five-acre field at 7 A.M., two hoes in the backseat.
At that point, a hoe was something you worked with in the field, and we didn't think twice about saying we had two in the car's backseat.
Up and down the rows we went, stopping for a sip of water at the end of each round. The water was in a quart jar with a few cubes of ice.
Towards the middle of the morning, Mama delivered a snack. Probably pie or cake. Maybe a candy bar. Surely a Coke. Nothing was diet then.
We ate. We chatted with Mama. She left. We went back to our silent labor. There's nothing a 16 year old needs to say to a 10 year old.
I was some 20 yards ahead of Bro when he called me. He was holding up a purple flower. Morning glory, I said, telling him to pull the vine.
He could not find the vine. I screamed at him to keep looking. He kept looking. I returned on the other row, and he was still looking.
I screamed further. The decibels didn't seem to help him much, but he did keep looking. I did another round. Two rows. He was still looking.
This is the boy who had let a dog fly, deer fly to you perhaps, ride his back and suck his blood for an hour one afternoon.
My motivational screaming was having no positive effect regarding finding the morning glory. I started another row, shaking my head.
A few feet into my row, I saw a glimmer of blue. Looking closer, I saw it was a flower. Another morning glory. Looking closer, I paused.
The blue flower was attached to a potato vine. It was a potato flower, the first in my life. We planted from cuttings. We never had seed.
Bro had spent the last hour searching for a morning glory vine that did not exist because I had never seen a sweet potato flower before.
I had been screaming at the top of my lungs for most of that hour for him to find that morning glory and pull it up.
All we had to show for his time and sweat was a bedraggled area of potatoes where he had methodically sought a nonexistent morning glory.
I told him to let it go and get back to the row. I never did tell him about the blossom I found. He never mentioned finding another one.
We pulled weeds from the field through the rest of the morning, working in silence, until the rural fire station sounded the noon siren.
I can report that tweeting this story only served to center my thinking and emotions by a small amount. Towards the last quarter, the idiots in the legislature won their campaign to create second class citizens, and I held and, sometimes, expressed, a fair amount of anger those two days. You can check my Twitter feed for details if you really want to go there. I encourage you, however, to let it go. It's all on the wheel, and those elected buffoons have their day coming.
In the meantime, more than one now travels with armed escort owing to threats communicated by phone and email. No, I didn't do any of that. I do not condone violence, and much less the threat of it. That's no way to function in a civilized society. However, I can report that I did smile upon the receipt of the news. OK, I laughed out loud. I just hope we have more, and better, to smile about come the day after the May elections.