wrestling with carrots

carrots - before beauty treatment

I volunteer for an organization that is part public/community garden, part harvest market, part nursery, and part educational resource.

I love it there.

In the beginning, all I did was weed. I didn’t mind. It’s quiet, peaceful work that requires patience and persistence, which it turns out I have when it comes to weeding. I’m the same with untying difficult knots. Can’t get your shoes off? Poor thing…come over here and let me take a look at the problem.

Certain activities bring out my perfectionism – without the Type A personality, of course. Uh, why do you still have your shoes on? I didn’t unknot your shoes for fun, you know. Next time, can you take them off before entering my blog? Here are some slippers you can wear (which I will burn immediately after you leave).

A weeder’s job is never done. Ever. I began to think that I would never graduate to doing anything else.

A few weeks ago, another fellow weeder and I were asked to help with some planting. We were so thrilled that our egos ballooned up over our heads.

We made it!! We’re too legit to quit!!

garden

A week later, the garden manager asked me to help harvest the broccoli:

“Get a clipper from the barn – ” He instructed.
My ego starting floating up into the air again. I quickly returned and started to cut some of the heads of broccoli, realizing that some of the stalks were way too thick for the clippers.
“How do I cut some of the bigger stalks? I don’t want to hack at them.” I said to the manager, holding up my narrow clippers.
“Well…first of all, those are wire cutters.”

Ego properly deflated.

I knew how ridiculous the situation was, so I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. He gave me his clippers and went off to get another pair. I put my head down and started working. I also harvested snap peas and then remembered the manager saying they needed carrots, too.

I couldn’t find him, so I asked someone else which carrots to harvest. I hadn’t a clue.

“Look at these tall greens,” She pointed to a large clump of carrot tops. “You could pull the more mature ones.”

Those were some stubborn carrots. I pulled, dug, and wrestled until I had sweat falling into my eyes (and everywhere else). Sometimes I was left with only the tops in my fist. If I had more time, I could have gotten more of them out, but everyone was beginning to leave and I still had to cut the tops and rinse them. As I was doing this, the garden manager showed up with another basket of carrots. He didn’t pick many mature ones – most of them were quite tiny.

Note to self: always find the manager and ask him how he wants things done.

carrots - after

My supervisors are loose and forgiving. They aren’t looking for perfection, which is perfect for an imperfect person who thinks she needs to be perfect. What they’re looking for is willingness, and  I am more than willing to learn and add to my growing base of knowledge (and superpowers). I predict all of this will come in very handy in the future…

 

Dad vs. The Gopher

No, The Gopher isn’t one of my Match.com dates. I’m talking about that “Caddyshack” acting, scene-stealing, menacing, rabid rodent:

"How you doin'?" Caddyshack (1980), Orion Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

“How you doin’?”
Caddyshack (1980), Orion Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

Actually, he doesn’t look that rabid. If I remember correctly, he was a pretty good dancer. Hm – he’s kind of cute. Almost…attractive. And speaking of, whatever happened to Michael O’Keefe? I developed a crush on him when I first saw him in “The Great Santini”. But I don’t want to look him up. I’d probably end up adding him to my “Back in the Day, but Not Today” list of actors. Nick Nolte is on that list. I know what you’re thinking, but he was really hot in “The Deep”:

"How you doin'?" The Deep (1977), Columbia Pictures

“How you doin’?”
The Deep (1977), Columbia Pictures

He soo rocked that mustache. I must have had been going through a blonde, surfer-phase back then. I also crushed on a young Michael Biehn and John Baldwin, with whom I went to high school (Baldwin, not Biehn). He had white-blonde hair. Sigh.

Back to the furry animal. My dad is obsessed with gophers. Unlike me, he does not find them attractive. At all. They are eating the product of all his hard work in the garden.

About 10 years ago, Dad learned how to use a computer. Now at the age of 90, he finds himself trusting Google’s advice more than his own children’s: “It’s amazing how much Google knows!” He loves Amazon, too. When a 5-lb. bag of cayenne pepper arrived at our door, I thought he was losing it. Then he explained that the Internet told him it worked to keep garden pests away. Okay, but 5-lbs.? Why not buy a small sample and test it out first? Dad? Are you listening to me? Internet, you stupid favorite child. My mom and I were afraid he was going to accidentally inhale the stuff and then we’d discover him collapsed on top of all the fava beans.

The pepper didn’t work. At least not on the gophers. The jury is still out on keeping squirrels and pooping cats out of their yard.

“He must be dragging them home to his family.” Dad opines after telling us that half his planting of burdock root have completely disappeared, leaves and all.

I decide not to point out that it could be a female gopher bringing home the burdock bacon to her family.

“I bet the kids are thinking, ‘Burdock root again?! We’re tired of burdock root!’” I say in a high-pitched tone.

‘Yah! We want something goodie!’” My mom chimes in in her broken English.

We both start laughing. But my dad is not amused. He is deep in thought, blocking us out like he has been doing it for the past 50 years. I guess that’s why he’s so good at it.

“Google also said that Juicyfruit gum works.” He says suddenly. “You have to find their main tunnel and drop the gum inside, still in its wrapper. They eat it and choke to death.”

The thought of those poor gophers meeting their deaths due to Juicyfruit was so strangely horrifying that I couldn’t come up with anything to say in response. If the  gum doesn’t work, he’ll be resorting to THE TRAP. I don’t want to know what this is – it sounds so final. At least with the gum, there’s a chance for the Heimlich maneuver to be applied in an emergency.

All I can say is, Gopher, give my dad a break. He’s paid his dues; his garden is his pride and joy. What could it hurt to go easy on the destruction and decimation of his veggies?

And, oh yeah – run for your lives.