Friday, September 25, 2015

potatoes and groundhogs...one thing leads to another


I have the tune of the Mexican Hat Song in my head today.  But the words are Cheryl Wheeler's version, involving potatoes and one mention of a groundhog

You too?

No?

Well.

Long long ago, on our honeymoon, before wrinkles and children, rodents and extreme backyarding, and other of "life's complications," we attended a folk music concert with a picnic and a bottle of wine. It was a glorious evening, one of the best of our honeymoon.  One of the performers there at the Seattle Zoo that night, along with three other folk singers, was Cheryl Wheeler.  And during the concert they drew words generated by the audience from a hat and each of them needed to perform a song that was somehow related to the selected word.  One of the words was farm animal.  And Cheryl sang this song.  There is a mention of a groundhog.  And she emphasized hog...and paused...for effect. 

And thus began my lifelong connection between potatoes and groundhogs.  See?  It makes perfect sense now, right?

We are hard at work harvesting what remains of the garden and beginning to clean it up for the the season.  This week I set to work on harvesting the potatoes.  Though exhausting to dig and sift through all the beds, I had company, and I was in the lovely shade of the sunflowers, still this season's best crop.





I discovered there is a family member that has even more patience than I for potatoes.  Elliott, who busied himself with rescuing all the tiny tubers that I was missing and leaving beside in the turned beds.


While I harvested the potatoes, something I enjoy and have the patience for, Jonathan, who does not share the enjoyment or the patience for this, did what he does best.  He emptied the garden shed completely, and then threw a bunch of stuff out and reorganized what went back in.  He is very good at this kind of thing, and I neither enjoy it nor am I good at it.  Which is probably why, since I am the primary user of the garden shed, it was in the condition that it was in.  

To my credit, the garden shed is in need of some structural attention that extends beyond my abuse of it, that despite my plans for it, are unlikely to happen this season.  That's okay, it will happen eventually.  But there is a groundhog who lives beneath the shed.  And he has chosen to chew an escape hatch (think Lost, the tv show) in the already rotting floor of the shed.  My approach to solving this problem was to pull a flower pot filled with pebbles over the hole for a couple of seasons.  Jonathan did a bit more of a significant repair. And the roof?  It is covered in beautiful and aged cedar shingles.  But it leaks.  And if you look closely, you will see, through the back wall of the shed, that actually serves as the windbreak for our beeyard.  So you can see...the out of doors through several large slits.  I am hoping the bees don't some day see my shed as a spacious McMansion to move into during swarm season.

Thinking about potatoes.  And groundhogs.  And lutzing.  Whaaat?  I'll get to that.  I lutzed my way down the river bank to the brush pile.  And spotted this.


Though this may appear an anthill?  Trust me, it is not.  It is a large, 10 foot in diameter, freshly dug groundhog hole.  I think I found the other escape tunnel.  We are likely living atop a complicated underground society, feeding well and prospering off our backyard shenanigans.

Which brings me around to our honeymoon again.  A good pair we are, though we might not have realized quite the far reaching reasons many years ago sitting on a blanket, fresh faced and birth trauma free.  Because this is what my charming husband did to my shed while I dug in the dirt.





Now, not wanting to be outdone by my industrious husband, and having brought in all the potatoes, I looked around for what more to do.  To appear busy of course, while he toiled around in the shed.  Well, there was a wee bit of weeding.



To my credit, it is hard to weed when the bees are enjoying the flowery aftermath so very much.


And so, I cleared those beds containing only blossom-free weeds, tidied up the rows of crazy but so pleasing to me mixed flower seeds I resorted to throwing quickly in this year.  And admired my bees.  





Maybe I admired my bees a bit longer than was necessary.  But I was just finishing that difficult work up when Jonathan finished hauling all the garbage up to the barn.

Since it was all in the name of family competition, apparently, Elliott decided he needed to take on another task as well.  Inspired by my newly installed drying racks that had been repurposed to the shed for drying herbs and such during our renovation of the laundry room inside the house.  He eyed the herbs.  And went to work.







Then it was time to head inside for dinner.  Eyeing the potato bin...I decided on potato soup.  It was kind of a version of this.  Except it was inspired by my I don't keep creme fraiche in the refrigerator and a groundhog ate my leeks situation.  So? I modified.  


***

Now. The lutzing. And, no, nothing to do with Kellan.

During the 1996 Zoo Honeymoon concert which solidified my synaptic association between tubers and ground rodents, Ms. Wheeler also began discussing her imaginary training for the Olympics, and how she was working on her lutzes.  She demonstrated.  And so, when I spotted Nicholas doing this stretch post-run later that evening, I had to giggle because...tubers and lutzes and rodents, oh my.  


You're Lutzing!  I exclaimed.  No response. I think he may be learning just not to ask questions.

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