The best of summer | Front Porch | Indy Week
Pin It

The best of summer 

It's so hard finally deciding to call in that rototiller strike, like a drone attack, from the shed to clear the expanse. A generous, wormy, thriving raised bed, it's all still so green. But the spinach has bolted, and last year's parsley outlived this spring's wild potato plants, even though its alien tubers now spread, octopus-like, toward open space. Somewhere in California someone has figured out a new dish using all the parts of veggies and herbs well past their prime. That's the circle of life, I suppose, or at least some extrapolation of it.

Maybe that's why God created compost piles and chickens. They are not picky eaters, at least the first time new food is offered. Sure, later on, perhaps they'll complain that those stalks tasted like cardboard, but if it starts out green or red, they're in. I'm convinced they possess at least 14 words for "leftovers."

The start of June brought us volunteer dill, cherry tomato plants and an alarming number of geriatric tomato cages. Thanks to wire cutters, we now have the neighborhood's largest collection of mini-cages, good for basil and tomatoes of indeterminate origin. For the moment, they're so perfectly geometric; once natural chaos ensues, bringing the battle for mulch and water, they'll be covered with tenacious squash and sweet potato vines.

The gardening list that hangs over my desk reminds me to leave space for the final wave of tomatoes. My wife looks up from her New York Times crossword puzzle to remind me we need enough basil for our daily tomato-mozzarella salads come July. We'll soon retrieve the blueberry-picking ladder and our favorite "kerplink, kerplunk" buckets for that delightful purple harvest.

Even after all these years of the same-old, natural surprises remind us the land is always in flux. Rounding the tire-swing corner on the driveway, we nearly ran into a runaway donkey sashaying down the road, as happy and curious as he could be. Earlier in the week, we discovered a huge bird's nest in a tool bag by the back door and a complacent frog living under a water dish. I still haven't seen the year's egg-grabbing black snake, but I know it's out there. Our showdown approaches.

Tonight, as I collapse in my favorite rusty white metal chair at the edge of the garden, I'm waiting for the sun to set a little further and for the treasured northwest breezes to pick up. I'm waiting for a last burst of energy for the nurturing dirt. Until then, I contemplate life's greatest mysteries: Is it turtles or frogs that are terrorizing my baby green peppers? Why do I fill and refill hummingbird feeders? Is having an old cat guard the garden a good or bad thing? Is this fence tall enough to keep the deer out? And where do morning glory vines even come from?

Latest in Front Porch

More by John Valentine


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Front Porch

  • One vote

    • Nov 12, 2014
  • Box of one

    Was I paying to be helped or to feel important, a bona fide expert on only myself?
    • Sep 24, 2014
  • The Old South (Hills)

    The Old South (Hills)

    • Sep 17, 2014
  • More »

Twitter Activity


Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Hocutt never went to Nam. He was in the Navy but washed out …

by Jefflenter on Raleigh bad boy no more (Front Porch)

Most Read

© 2015 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation