Garden Hold’em

With the end of the planting season upon us, and the monsoon underway, can the mosquito season be far behind? Each has of course, its own dangers and preparation. As I walked cautiously into the Bakery in Drizzle Creek, I was greeted by the usual insults from the debating table. Dripping water from the latest ‘light shower’, a real frog-drowner, I slowly pulled up a chair and dripped on both my neighbours, who quickly ‘hopped’ their chairs away a few inches.

“What’s the matter with you? Not enough brains to hurry up and get in outta the rain?” commented Pickle, whose varied exploits with torched fishing shacks, charred deer jerky, and flaming gas tanks, amply demonstrated his experience with brain deficiency. But that’s a topic for another column- or five.

“Yer movin’ slow. Back botherin’ you again?” quizzed Moose his own experience with falling off multiple ladders, and quick descents during roof shingling projects, having left him with a trick knee, a score of compressed vertebrae and a permanent hump in his back.

“No. It’s just the tonic. The Pearl stewed me up a big pot of fresh rhubarb yesterday and I kinda overdosed on it. Sudden movements could, well… result in sudden movements,” I explained making an extra effort to control all sphincters.

My neighbours immediately moved their chairs another 12 inches away from me.

“Crikey, dddd- don’t anybody crack any jokes. We don’t want him losing control! And don’t give him any of that flaxseed toast. Sounds like things might already be over-lubricated” stammered Moose still eyeing me suspiciously.

The table settled down quickly enough and the round of ‘Garden Hold’em’ continued.

“I’ll trade a packet of peaches and cream for some wax beans,” offered Herman, fanning out his surplus seed packets.

“I’ll see your peaches and cream and raise you a half packet of beets and swiss chard,” replied Moose peeking at his hole packet.

“How about some straight-eight cucs for some scarlet runner beans,” asked Pickle hopefully.

“Go fish!” said Murray, “How about a bag of Norlunds? Anybody holding?”

And so it continued around the table as surplus seeds were traded and stowed in pockets to lay forgotten until they sprout there after the next washday.

Towards the end of the game, The Runt staggered in with a big sack of assorted seeds and gardening equipment. His brow was covered with sweat, his face white, arms scratched and shoes and pants covered with mud.

“What on earth happened to you?” asked Moose as he poured the obviously distressed Runt a coffee and motioned to Val to rush an order of toast to go with it. The Runt’s apparent fragile condition must have really rattled Moose as it’s the first time in living memory he’s poured a coffee for anyone other than himself.

“Snakes!” sputtered the Runt as he slurped down half a cup of coffee and then started on his rant.

“I hate ‘em. I was planting the last of the garden and two of them came slithering out from under the rhubarb. I jumped on the mower and wiped out the potatoes and tomatoes as well as the rhubarb trying to get the filthy beasts. I just about had them when I lost control on a tight turn and put the mower over the riverbank. That’s it for gardening! I quit,” he stated firmly slamming the sack of seeds on the floor, then reaching for his toast and peanut butter.

I snickered then made a desperate, but determined dash for the john. Through the door, over the roar of laughter the only discernible voice was a plea from The Runt for post-coffee help dragging his mower out of the River.