Remember when my wife Tom Sawyered me into renting a rototiller, and then tilling the garden?
I do. It’s the first thing I think about when my eyes open every single day. How do I know she’s not tricking me into doing other things?
If she knows how to do that for real, then she’s exercising a lot of restraint, because I have only assisted her with her garden in two other ways.
The first was, I hammered some makeshift tomato stakes into the ground. That took about five minutes and I was wearing one of those beer hats and a pair of running shorts – I’m not sure it counts.
The other time, I was sitting here blogging just like I am now. If you saw a snapshot of me, you’d say, “Now there’s a fella who’s minding his own business.”
That’s not how your average Wife thinks though.
Like I remember when I came into my little office/garage and there was a little end table next to the chair I keep out there, so I can sit and watch television at night without anyone coming up and asking me to turn it down to whisper mode.
She was standing there admiring the end table. She said, “See how that end table goes perfectly with that chair?”
“It sure does,” I said – that’s the kind of thing never occurs to me, until you put it right in front of me and point at it and tell me really loud. Like haircuts, let’s get this straight – I have no idea when you get a haircut. It’s a blessing and a curse.
“I got that at a garage sale and I knew it would match your chair.”
“Really cool of you to pick me up an end table,” I admitted, nodding, thinking, maybe she’s all right, after all. Like when Darth Vader picked up the Emperor and threw him into a nearby bottomless space shaft.
“No, no,” she said absently. “I’m taking your chair to go with my new table. Well, you are. Let me show you where it needs to go.”
Anyway, this time she came in and stood in front of me and watched me blog for about ten seconds until I looked up and said, “Hello. What can I do for you?”
Funny I should ask. It turned out – and this took a while to really boil down into sentence form, because it seemed as though I was supposed to be coming up with this task on my own, not responding to a direct request – that she needed me to get in the car with her, ride to the garden store, get out and walk inside where she would point at a giant bag of soil.
The bag of soil was very heavy – I needed to pick it up, and put it in the cart.
That was absolutely no problem – oddly flattering, like when Wives ask you to open a jar for them. You want to swagger around for a few minutes after you hand it back, cracking your shoulders. Yep, you have another problem like that, young missy, blah, blah, blah.
Then I needed to walk along the cart, observe an economic transaction, then follow her out to the car, where once again the giant bag of dirt would need transferred to the car.
It was genuinely a big bag of dirt. She couldn’t pick it up. What was she going to do? I guess the garden’s cancelled.
Well, luckily I was there, to transfer the bag of dirt to the car.
Marilyn then suggested with apparent seriousness that I might want to adopt the nickname Dirt Bag or Dirt Bagger or even worse, Mister Dirty Bag.
She was driving, because it was definitely her mission. Most of my conscious mind was still back in my garage/office, blogging.
I was like the safecracker or the hacker – one specific job otherwise just sit there and smile.
Time to get to work again. The house is laid out weird, and we don’t have Wheelbarrow Technology right now – the boys in the lab are working on it, but there’s also a funding issue. Wheelbarrows cost money, but me picking stuff up and walking around with it, that’s free.
You like to lift weights, don’t you Tom? How about you skip that today, and instead lift up that big bag of dirt and follow me?
So about fifty yards, carrying the giant bag of dirt, then drop it right at the edge of the garden.
That’s it. Rototilling and the transportation of a single, very heavy bag. And a couple of trips to the garden store, listening, nodding, buying. That’s the extent of the work that I contributed to Marilyn’s garden.
Meanwhile, the windows are such that I can’t see the garden from them, and although I can see it from the deck, you don’t really get the full effect from that distance. So today when I went down there, I was flabbergasted.
There’s a bunch of food growing down there, right out of the ground in my yard.
You know, it’s one of those things where she was talking about zucchini and squash all week, and also, we kept eating it. There was zucchini and squash in everything.
I vaguely remember her telling me fifty or sixty times that she didn’t know what she was going to do with all this zucchini and squash, but when I went out there and looked at it, growing out of the ground.
I’m serious, it looked like magic.
She’s got a forest of tomato plants out there – cherry tomatoes and roma and whatever the regular kind are called. Regular?
Also if you get down there and part the leaves on one side of the garden, there are so many zucchinis and squash that it reminded me of when Neo woke up in the Matrix. They seem like they go on forever.
I remember that she specifically showed me a pack of seeds for the peppers, and the bag indicated that all sorts of different kinds of pepper seeds were in there – no way to say for sure what you’d get.
But a big purple pepper? The very kind Peter Piper picked a peck of?
Yup. Looks like an eggplant and a pepper had a baby. I’m going to make some chili with that purple pepper in it, but the bad news is, it’s going to be vegan chili. It doesn’t make any sense to contribute nothing but a bit of donkey labor to a three month project, and then make chili out of it that the gardener can’t eat.
If you thought regular chili does hilarious things to your bowels, you should definitely enjoy a bowl of my Vegan Tofu Chili Surprise. There’s no better place for an out-of-body experience than the privacy of your own bathroom.
Right now we are about to grill some pork chops – I didn’t get them out of her garden and anyway there are no tofu pork chops, don’t be ridiculous – and we are using Fried Chicken Technology to deep fry the zucchini and some hand cut French fries.
That seems to me like the kind of really fantastic, summer afternoon that would be easy to take for granted. I’m not going to do that, so I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.