With the snow up to my ying yang and above zero temperature only a dim memory, cabin fever is pandemic… forget about Covid. I spent a week in front of the Tube O.D.ing on curling but then I turned on the news and the Convoy protestors sent be directly into a deep depression. What to do for relief. I know, I’ll dream about spring, dirt and gardening. I remember…..
Down here in Rainy River, the earlier garden planning sessions over high-test coffee at the Bakery ignited an infectious enthusiasm and a run on onion sets that in two days flat wiped out the community’s stock. Digestive upsets and bad breath should be reaching epidemic proportions any week now.
Giant Pumpkins are always a popular subject, with last years’ 1000 lb plus weight, it’s a starry-eyed goal for every hoe master with a plot to dedicate. Eltjo ‘Hard Luck’ Wiersema, president of The Giant Pumpkin Festival for several years was busy that spring doling out seeds from last year’s giants with a missionary fervor.
“Here’s one from the champ,” he whispered conspiratorially, slipping me the treasured seed with strict instructions for planting.
I tried my best, but giving me seeds is a near sure kiss-of-death for said seeds, so I had to resort to purchasing pre-started plants from the greenhouse. As a matter of fact I bought four with hopes at least one would make it.
“Where on earth are you going to plant that? We’ve only got a little vegetable garden,” snorted my wife, The Pearl of the Orient, as a look of disgust was quickly replaced by a frown of worry.
“And don’t even think you’re going to put it in the flower bed,” she added shaking the hoe at the pumpkin seedlings threateningly.
“Well, I’m chewing up a strip of lawn to expand our vegetable production, besides Len isn’t using his big garden and he said I was welcome to it,” I huffed as I headed out to borrow the neighbour’s rototiller.
“It’s on the fritz, but if you want to fix it up, have at it,” explained John as he proffered the cutest little tiller in captivity. We hoisted it into the back of my truck and I headed into the bowels of my garage to access some tools. Working my way through the jumbled mess, I had just about made the toolbox when a piece of trellis reached out and tripped me. The empty pots, planters, and garbage pails broke my fall, so the screw nail sticking out of the plank only went a half-inch into my palm.
Later disinfected with varsol and suitably bandaged with duct tape, I managed to complete the tune up and had the little beast running like a Ferrari. I set the governor up another couple hundred revs to provide the necessary extra horsepower for the tough sod and headed for the lawn.
She bucked and snorted across the soon to be extinct grass throwing roots, stones and chunks of sod about wildly. Needing the full strength of both arms to control the beast, the obvious solution, was to tie down the deadman safety lever thus devoting total concentration to tilling.
It worked fine for a couple of rounds, until I tripped over my shoelaces (bending over to tie one’s shoelaces is difficult and tied laces is a highly over-rated dress protocol). I stumbled forward and the extra down pressure on the tiller jerked it clear out of my hands. From my prone position, I watched it race like a demon possessed, across the lawn straight for the Catholic Church. That is until it encountered the garden hose, which it proceeded to devour at a furious pace.- all 250 feet of it.
Satiated, the beast burped a couple of times and stalled. It only took two hours to cut the hose out of the tines and the pulled muscles in my back should heal in a couple months. The palm is fine as my tetanus shot is up to date.
On my way back from the hardware store with the new garden hose, I stopped to see how ‘Hard Luck’ was making out with his Great Pumpkins. I was surprised, but that’s a story for another day.