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The Village Idiot

Jack and the bean stalk

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(7/2012) While working in the garden recently, DW asked what was sprouting in a 100-foot row Iíd planted earlier in the week. She was looking down the row with an odd expression I couldnít quite read.

"Empress bush green beans." I allowed.

"I thought we were only planting 50 feet of beans this year? Remember how much trouble we both had picking that many feet last year? Did you forget saying youíd never plant that many again?"

I think about those questions for a bit and donít come up with answers I think sheíll enjoy.

She looks down the row. "You planted a double row of beans? What were you thinking?"

Crap, she noticed. What to do now? Hell. "Actually, I planted that 50 foot row over there in Empress beans too. Double rows."

"Three hundred feet of beans?" She gives me her one eyed squint. "What are you going to do with so many beans, after you pick them?"

"Ummm, you forgot the 50 feet of Tenderette over by the potatoes."

"What are you going to do with three hundred fifty feet of beans?" Now the squint is a glare. Balor, of the Evil Eye, comes to mind. DW says she has an Irish great great grandfather. Maybe sheís channeling Balor? If she is, she isnít doing it well. I havenít burst into flames, yet.

I start a long, detailed explanation involving canning, freezing and drying. Then I mention seed saving.

"And who is going to pick all these beans?"

I get the distinct impression she thinks it wont be her. I on the other hand think she wonít be able to help herself, but I keep that thought to myself. The beans are little things easily wiped out with the stirrup hoe sheís holding as she glares at me. (I suspect she knows sheíll pick the bulk of the beans when the time comes. I notice some of her hair seems to have gotten lighter as weíve talked. Must be my imagination.)

The kids moved out of the upstairs apartment and took off for Florida. DW took their leaving hard, as mothers seem to do. As we took a tour of the vacated apartment and considered what renovations Iíd like to make and what theyíd cost, I noticed her hair seemed to lighten in color the more I talked. Must have been the upstairs lighting. Weíll have to fix that too.

The garlic harvest begins the first week of July. DW will go up to Mardaís and help wash 29,000 bulbs. Sheíll get to sit in a shady glen and chat with the other washers and the diggers while she sips cold drinks and gets paid for her leisurely vacation ritual.

I will go to our garlic beds (after delivering her to the garlic farm) and begin digging the 1,300 bulbs she planted last November. If this July is like last year, Iíll stab the garden fork into the first row as the air temperature hits 100F. By the time Iíve lifted, sorted and labeled a 33 foot row of garlic Iíll be staggering from the heat and effort. Iíll barely manage to get the boxes of garlic to the van and make it home. After stacking the boxes on the living room floor, Iíll collapse for a couple hours to recoup a bit of energy so I can start washing the dayís harvest. That usually takes me a bit past noon when I have to go up the hill to fetch DW home.

"What happened to the kitchen?" is likely what Iíll hear when she gets home.

Iíll start a long, detailed explanation of our not having Mardaís commercial garlic washing set up and this is the best I can do. I just know her hair will lose a bit more color.

Actually, the garlic harvest started today, Thursday, June 21, 2012. DW has been grumbling that we need to weed the garlic beds and I keep putting it off as Iím tired and other things need done first. Today I left work early and stopped to check the garlic.

GA! The weeds are taller than the garlic stalks! NOT a good thing! The scapes had mostly straightened out, also not a good thing, so I started cutting the scapes off. While doing that, I had stalks pull loose from the soil and realized the bulbs had rotted after the most recent rain. But how? The garlic shouldnít be ready for a couple weeks yet!

Duh. The mild winter of course!

I rushed home to get a garden fork (which was already in the van) and the garlic map. Back at the garden, I identified the cultivar with the rot as Zemo and started lifting bulbs. Overall, they looked nice. I only lost a few to rot. Trouble was, the cultivar next to the Zemo also had some dead stalks, which I lifted. This was the Bavarian Purple cultivar I absolutely love! Crap! Bulb mites! If I took off my glasses and held the rotting bulbs close, I could make out the nasty little eaters. So I lifted the remainder of the 59 bulbs DW had planted.

DW walked into the living room a few hours later and discovered a table set up with two piles of garlic stalks, dirt and all. "Whatís this?" Her hair was getting lighter in color even as she spoke.

She suggested I wash the garlic outside this year. I told her I had thought of that, but needed to mow the yard first. As mowing the yard has been a point of contention since we moved in together (1987), her hair didnít change at all.

Walking into the kitchen, she spied the 2-gallon fermentation bucket on the island. Crap. I though she wouldnít notice it among the three 6-gallon carboys, the two 1-gallon jugs of mead and the gallon of honey.

"Whatís this?"

"A ginger mead Iím experimenting with."

She sighs.

While itís been interesting watching DWís hair change shades, I donít understand what her problem is. Not only has my hair turned grey since we started sharing a life, Iíve also begun growing a bald spot. Honestly, Iíd sooner have grey hair than a spot on top of my head that burns under the sun.

At least she understands my need for a hat. Sadly, she doesnít understand my need for so many hats.

If asked, DW will say her hair started turning grey about the time our son started talking. Sheíll likely go on about how living with two Deatherages (both of them Jacks) is enough to turn anyoneís hair grey. I donít buy that of course. Mom D lived with seven Deatherages (two of them also named Jack) for 15 years and her hair didnít turn grey. White, but not grey.

Women are such a puzzle.

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.