Garden Rain, Late Harvest

October 13, 2013

BURGER TO GO

By T.W. Burger

I sat down on the remains of an old school desk in my garden and watched the rain assault the burn pile, and listened as it drummed on the hood of my slicker.

The pile has been growing for a couple of years; garden waste, scrap lumber, brush and small trees, a couple of tree stumps. I figured it would not do to allow the pile to get any larger, so it was time.

At the end of a long drought, and with the pile only about 10 feet from a whole field of drying soybeans, I needed a rainy day.

I got my wish. The forecast called for two or three days of steady rain. I figured that would do.

It did.

Getting ready to do physical work takes longer than it used to: A brace for the bad ankle, one for each knee, another one for the back, and the aforementioned bright yellow slicker.

The fire crept slyly around the wet pile at first, but eventually its hunger won out and flames reached up eight feet or more. While I kept an eye on it, I began the work of getting the garden ready for winter.

I stripped the few remaining tomatoes, most of them a bright green, and then pulled up the vines.

Thick smoke danced from the fire as it burned down. I stopped my work and hauled half a dozen wheelbarrow loads of trimmings and broken branches from a couple of other spots in the yard and heaped them onto the fire, which roared back into life.

The heat felt good, so I sat on the old desk for a bit, enjoying the warmth, soaked through everywhere the slicker did not cover and under the slicker I was soaked with sweat.

The tomato patch reduced to a rectangle of mud, I moved over to the peppers.

Orange habañeros and long red chilis glowed bright as sparks against the dark compost. I fumbled among the slender stems, careful to leave the still ripening fruit undamaged. I rinsed the dirt off the colorful harvest and laid them in a bucket, and then moved to the former broccoli patch. The groundhogs got to the broccoli before we did, but a kind of strange, hybrid gourd they left alone.

I suspect it was the result of a liaison between a zucchini or winter squash and a pumpkin. The fruits are bright yellow and knobby, but baked and mixed with butter and cinnamon, there is nothing better.

Late Harvest 10-11-2013 6-34-49 PM 2448x3264.49

The garden is almost at an end. A few peppers and squash remain, and if the frost holds off for another week or so, we may get more.

The fire had died back to a sullen glow. I took a manure fork, flipped some unburned material over onto the coals, and piled the new debris on top. The flames found new enthusiasm.

I sat again, swirled about by aromatic smoke, pummeled by rain, sore, but content, my breath condensing in the cool air.

For the most part, the garden is a corpse, to be torn apart and composted or burned, piled with manure, and put into hibernation. There is still much to do.

But not today. I am done. My knees stiff, my back bent like Quasimodo’s, I hoisted my two buckets of color and lurched through the gray and brown garden to the warm house, a hot bath, some aspirin, and a touch of scotch.

As I started the house, the rain started to fall harder, coming down in sheets. I gave one more glance at the fire. It had become a few dark, smoking heaps, no flames visible. I began to think that I should have saved the wood for an ark.

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© 2013 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.

Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.

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