May 11, 2006

'P' is for pelle

Digging in the thick clay Garonne River floodplain is hard work--fertile, sticky, dense, rocky and full of centuries old weed seeds. This is not the gardening they show on TV, this is not even the part I remember last year when PBS's Smart Gardening program filmed my potager. I think this is the part of gardening memories that evaporates like rain clouds in the last three drought dry summers. Why is there not a chintz print gardening tunic? Candy colored gloves? Elegant little wheelbarrow? I'll tell you why in two words-

cow shit

My new capri summer pants are now grass and other stained.
My nails are dirt-encrusted even though I was wearing serious gloves.
The rusty wheelbarrow is slopped with manure enriched compost from the Sabadini farm up the road.
so why am I smiling knee deep in merde?

I have seen the effects of this dark magic at my neighbors farm. Hay grows lightening-like under the spring sky; peach trees blossom clouds of future fruit; a solitary lemon tree produces a treasure trove of citrons to sharpen summer cooking. So whenever I can get Denis Sabadini to drive his tractor down the little one lane driveway that links 11 varied houses on this chemin de campagne, his front loaded bucket full of well-rotted straw and manure, I am the happiest neighbor in this Long Village.

For the last 5 days I have been digging, weeding, clearing, wheelbarrowing. I smell like a farmer. I am happy. As my good friend Franny G. says, it's time to call "a shovel a spade."

P' might stand for the sweet parts of the potager--
the petits pois just planted,
the parasol that shelters the table,
the pommes de terre we will dig for summer salads--
but I know it really stands for pelle- the spade with which we shovel all that shit.

Here's to my Long Village neighbors!

1 comment:

Diva said...

keep on shoveling...and may all your SHIT.. be in your garden!el