Thursday, September 19, 2013
Sept 8, 2013
There was something about digging potatoes today. I couldn't figure it out. I dug up shovelfuls of soil, revealing the potatoes that popped up as I dug, then I kneeled down to grab them and put them in my bucket. These are the red potatoes my wife likes best. They come in early and are very tasty, though they tend to be smallish. They surprise me as they spread out on the surface of the very dark granular soil, straight well rotted goat manure I piled up in that spot five years ago. This garden that I like to plant potatoes in is slightly raised above the surrounding ground. This summer it stayed mostly dry, or perhaps not too badly drenched, considering. The soil is very black and rich and still damp despite the dry August. I think that I wondered about the red, ripe sprinkling of potatoes clashing against the black soil. I dug up lots of worms too but the potatoes seemed healthy. I'll have to move the potatoes to another patch next year, or take a chance on the rot. It must have been a good year for potatoes. In other years I have got what I considered to be a good crop, but this year there seems to be more than usual. Considering just about everything else bombed, I should be pleased. So maybe that was what interested me so much, how nature appears to have retained a balance. I know the weeds grew vigorously this summer; so they also must be part of the balance. I hate the word balance. There is a mystic something about it impossible to put your finger on. When you use words like that, everything comes from faith. I know people who have faith that never attach to their faith a single skeptical thought. How do they do that? It seems to me that despite the lousy growing season, in which many of my normally most abundant crops failed, that nature showed a sort of balance by providing many more potatoes than usual. But what does that prove? It is much more than a leap of faith to say that nature demonstrates a characteristic called balance. It only says to me that in this situation I got more potatoes than usual. The potatoes, especially the smaller ones, were perfectly round about the size of baseballs. They spilled out of the black soil, and they seemed to me precious, as if I had uncovered in the fruitful earth a precious metal. So I stopped thinking about balance, which is just another fancy, meaningless word, and I thought about potatoes. I remember once helping a neighbor dig out his potato acre. It was late September, cold, a hint of rain in the air, maybe sleet. There was a sociable gang of us, all working for a couple of bushels to take us into the winter. We dug a pit, filled it with coals from a wood fire, and dropped in potatoes. Once they were baked, and it was too dark to dig any more, we ate potato after delicious potato topped with sour cream and chives. Stop there! Why go on? You don't need faith, you don't need balance, all you need really is for someone to pass you another potato.