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Ramblings From a Shut-in

In this time of publicly requested timeout, I have chosen to count my blessings. I’m spending this time in my comfortable condo on the outskirts of Chapel Hill, NC, which is, fortunately, a very desirable place to live when you can get out and about. As it stands today I’m lucky to have a private corner of the world looking out on a treed lot full of songbirds, squirrels, rabbits, and deer.

At the moment I live just over the hill from where I grew up in Lake Forest. It’s a Godsend that in this time of social distancing I can still go over to the lake there and cast a lure for the chance of landing one of the giant largemouth bass that have been growing there since my childhood. I suspect I’m angling for the great, great-grandchildren of the bass I once fished for, and I’m sure I could Google the lifespan of a bass and lay a guess at your feet of their ancestry but I’m being nostalgic this afternoon and there’s nothing to kill the blissful melancholy mood of nostalgia faster than facts.

I started writing this reverie in my head while standing at the kitchen window staring down at the community garden grateful that it rained well last night. I’ve actually taken advantage of this soil allotment this year since I’m placed here for the time being and not out on the road somewhere.

Is there anything more pathetic than a struggling garden ignored by its Gardner and left to fend for itself under the hot sun? This is the thought I’ve had in recent springs as I looked from the same perch and thought: Hey, wouldn’t some homegrown Better Boy tomatoes be welcome in July? Wonder bread, mayonnaise, and pepper. As kids we’d eat tomato sandwiches one after the other until the corner of our mouths grew raw from the acid in the tomatoes; real tomatoes, grown so large on the vine and on the verge of bursting. I can smell the tangy scent of objection from the plants as we picked our prize and scrambled to the kitchen where we’d slice ours as thick as your little finger while still hot from the sun.

Almost as a way to keep a sense of time passing, I planted a variety of wildflowers and some beets rather than the more ambitious task of growing vegetables. Besides in today’s world I feel a sense of duty to support our local farmers who are much more capable of cultivating and delivering vegetables to my table.

I’ve marked my calendar to harvest the beets around May 20th and the flowers soon to follow. It’s nice to have a side project that once begun all I need to do is water the plot and watch it grow. I’m reminded how true it is that getting your hands back in the dirt brings a comfort offering something productive and magical for such a small investment. Time will tell how well it delivers. Ain’t that the truth these days. With that I’m off to another DIY project so bye for now.

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