Gone Fishing

I didn’t go fishing enough last year. I aim to fix that this year.

We have a pond on the farm, stocked with large mouth bass  and catfish. It provides all the fish I eat. Of course, I do have to go the trouble of catching them first.

I’m good at coming with excuses for not going fishing. During the day there always seems to be some more important tasks that need doing instead. The best time of day for fishing, in my experience, is late afternoon, just before it gets dark. But we like to go for a walk after supper and by the time we’re done it’s usually nearly dark, leaving me no time for fishing. So the fish chill safely in the pond, rather than in our refrigerator.

My plan this year is to carve out a regular fishing time each week. It might mean that one day a week I go fishing instead of going on the walk. We’ll see.

For many years my  work required me to travel a lot, leaving Cherie and the kids at home. This week the tables have finally turned. Cherie is in California for a World Help conference, leaving me here alone.

It seems strange not having her here, but it did mean that without my walking partner I could make other plans this evening.

So while Cherie is away helping save the world, I went fishing.

But after just a couple of casts (and they were biting), it started raining and I ended up getting rained out.

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Oh well. No fish tonight–but we really needed the rain.

Maybe tomorrow.

 

Prepping for Summer

It was 87 degrees here today, and it’s as dry as the proverbial bone. I can’t recall an April like this one. I’ve never had to irrigate this early before, and this year we’ve been irrigating for a couple of weeks now. There is rain in the forecast for Friday and I’m hoping they’re right, as it’s desperately needed.

I’m trying to get our summer gardens prepped, but nature isn’t making it easy this year. It felt like I was rototilling a concrete parking lot, and what little of our rock-like clay that was pulverized by the tiller, lifted with the breeze and sailed off into the woods. So this was not the day for tilling.

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Right now we’re harvesting beautiful asparagus and we have lettuce, kale, collards and broccoli happily on the way.

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As for our Asian greens and spring root crops, we’ll just think of them as offerings to the cruel god of aridity, if anyone has ever invented such a notion. They’re always better in the fall anyway.

Notwithstanding our current conditions, which will surely pass and soon enough be replaced by some other situation about which I can complain, I’m looking forward to getting the summer gardens going.

We always dedicate a large garden to tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. We’ll do that again this year of course (after all, what’s summer without tomatoes, eggplant and peppers?), but we’re scaling back on varieties. This year the only tomatoes we’re going to grow are Romas and German Johnsons, our favorite heirloom. We’re not going to grow any hot peppers and we’ve scaled back the number of bell peppers we’re going to plant. But we aren’t making any eggplant changes–we’ll still grow one Italian and one Asian variety. Just typing this has me hungry for ratatouille.

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Roma plants, awaiting transplanting

Of course we’re also going to grow beans, okra, sweet corn, squash, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons and probably some other things I’m forgetting.

I just hope I don’t have to use a jackhammer to make that happen.

 

Blindness

The weakness of the industrial economy is clearly revealed when it imposes its terms upon agriculture, for its terms cannot define those natural principles that are most vital to the life and longevity of farms. Even if the industrial economists could afford to do so, they could not describe the dependence of agriculture upon nature. If asked to consider the lilies of the field or told that the wheat is resurrected out of its graves, the agricultural industrialist would reply that “my engineer’s mind inclines less toward the poetic and philosophical, and more toward the practical and possible,” unable even to suspect that such a division of mind induces blindness to possibilities of the utmost practical concern.

Wendell Berry
From “Two Economies” (1988)

To Memphis and Back

I’m back comfortably in the bosom of  White Flint after a quick trip to Memphis. I’ve only been away from the farm overnight a handful of times over the last five years. I was reminded of some of the things I dislike about traveling and it feels good to be back home.

I had a good reason for going to Memphis. I’m honored and pleased that Organic Wesley was chosen Wesleyan Book of the Year by Christ Church UMC and I went there to receive the award. While there I was interviewed on a local television show that will air soon. I confess that it felt nice to get the pat on the back.

I had a little down time yesterday before the event and I spent a lot of it visiting the National Civil Rights Museum. It was a powerful and moving experience. I recommend it to anyone who visits Memphis and can spare a few hours.

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I didn’t have time to take in the musical history sites. I just waved at Sun Studio as I drove by. But I did walk over to Beale Street for lunch. It’s certainly changed a lot since my visit 28 years ago. Then it was seedy and largely abandoned. Only the Rum Boogie Cafe was open and operating. Now it’s still seedy, but crowded with clubs and tourists, even in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. It’s not the Beale Street of the past of course, but it’s good to know it’s alive and kicking.

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The catfish supper I enjoyed the previous night exploded in my stomach like a grenade about an hour after I ate it. A decade of a diet of almost entirely all healthy homegrown food has evidently left my innards unwilling to accept the deep fried things I once loved. So for lunch I had a veggie burger. I know. Eating a veggie burger in a Southern food paradise like Memphis is akin to sacrilege. But I couldn’t risk another intestinal rebellion. Sigh.

Memphis is a funky town with a lot of soul. I hope to visit again someday. As I was was waiting to catch my plane, “Crazy Arms” by Jerry Lee Lewis was playing in the airport. How can you not love a town like that?

 

Good People

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This was my admittance ticket for my visit to Sun Studio nearly 28 years ago. It was such an awesome experience that I’ve been carrying that ticket in my billfold ever since.

And now, all these years later, I’m in Memphis again. But, sadly, without time to visit the shrines of American music. Maybe next time.

But I did have time to visit the Soulfish Cafe for a supper of catfish, hush puppies, cole slaw and collard greens. It was off-the-charts good.

I’m on east coast time so I ate early. There weren’t many people in the restaurant with me. The only other table had four young people, two young black men with two young black women.

As I was enjoying my catfish supper an elderly white woman came in and picked up take-out. On the way to her car, visible to us through the restaurant window, she fell in the parking lot. Almost quicker than I could process what had happened, those two young men had rushed outside to help her. They helped her to her feet, made sure she was OK, then came back inside to resume their meals. A simple act of kindness. No doubt there are literally millions of them every day. But it made me smile, knowing that such things reflect who we are as people, and they never make the news. I even felt a little ashamed at myself that those young men had reacted more quickly than I did.

They were quicker to their feet than I was, but I wasn’t left without a chance to help. I paid their tab and asked their waitress not to tell them until I was gone. I wasn’t going to let those guys have all the fun.

Waste

So I read that experts estimate $10 billion will be spent on campaign advertisements in the U.S. presidential election this year.

Most of it, I feel sure, will be spent on television commercials consisting of insults, lies and half-truths about the “other side.” It’s been proven that those are the kinds of ads that deliver results.

Woe to those who watch television and live in purple states.

I keep thinking about that mind-boggling number.

Ten. Billion. Dollars.

Think of how much good could be done with that amount of money.

Sigh.