We stop at the Local Boys fruit stand for peaches on the way home from the airport shuttle Park ‘n Ride lot. I’m thinking ahead, how to feel home the quickest and easiest. Although we both love peaches, the Bearded One is like his Grandma Leona. Biting into an unpeeled peach sends an electrical storm through his body. Don’t talk about it, please, he says and shivers as I select the fuzzy fruits. Why should such a genetic trait have ever evolved? I wonder.
The Bearded One is off crutches after spraining his foot before I left for my long weekend in Montana and my Grandma Milly’s memorial, but he is still limping. His groin hurts now, too, because that’s where Garfield landed from a high shelf on Saturday night when my sweetheart was laying spread eagle on the den bed watching Harry Potter. Still, he managed to make the chicken nests, get them installed, put latches on all the gates, tie a pile of kindling bundles for our winter fires, and make a surprise object d’art as well. I unpack, start the washing machine and feel more and more myself as we head up to the barn.
Everything has grown! I grab a plastic bowl and pick snap peas, zucchini, and tomatoes. These tomatoes are the first we’ve ever managed to grow after 3 summers on the farmlet, and it was ten degrees above freezing on the back deck the last 2 mornings. Bless the hoop house and the Topsy Turvy system.
I circle by the Rings Garden and the potatoes are all died back now. A few more days and I can cut the tops off and then let them cure underground for several weeks before I dig them up. Some have already worked their way up, and are on top of the ground all of a sudden. They’re new potatoes you have to eat right away, but they’re so creamy and good.
The tops of the Walla Walla onions are all bent over ready to be pulled and laid out in the sun for a few days. The carrots are ready, but they can stay in the garden just fine until I’m ready to store them in boxes with sawdust and straw in the root cellar. Next week.
The transplanted cabbages are struggling but seem to be making it. Their life cycle is just beginning.
Up in the chicken house, the Bearded One has outdone himself. The nests are exquisite. They are built with cedar scraps from the two 150 year old trees we cut down to get some sun and to make the Circle Garden. Most of the cedar is on the goat barn.
And then I see the surprise, mounted on the wall of the chicken coup. It’s a board with 16 circles glued to it, each a cross-section of one of the 16 poles holding up the entire chicken house and its huge 30’x30′ tarp roof. With this, the Bearded One says, we can monitor the aging of the poles. Sort of. Cracks will show up in the art as they develop in the larger structure. There’s some pretty big cracks showing already.
My Grandma Milly was 93 years old when she died. The gathering for her memorial was in a small Montana pioneer cemetery on the mountain plains. We stood in a circle around the grave and ashes, 13 of us, a baker’s dozen, ages 19 to 84. We passed a bottle of Montana Gold whiskey Irish-style and told our memories and thoughts.
We laid fresh pink roses on the grave and laughed and cried. I looked at how we had all aged. How my aunt has Grandma Milly’s mouth, and my nephew has my brother’s mouth. How my cousin has my Grandpa Cy’s art talent. I heard for the first time that I was induced with castor oil 54 years ago, thanks to Grandma Milly’s recommendation. I felt privileged to be that old, to have memories to share, to know people for decades.
The Bearded One and I hug and kiss and walk back to the house. It’s so good to be home. Inside, he dodges the two boxes of fruit perfuming the kitchen, and I get out my peach pie recipe. As Grandma would say, the nuts don’t fall far from the tree.