My friend Sarah at the NRCS called me one day and asked if she could bring a group of interns over to our place to see my high tunnel (or hoop house). Since I had obtained the cost-sharing funds through her office to pay for a large share of my high tunnel, and since Sarah and I had bonded instantly over our love for babies and the coincidence of the very same scar that we share on the same finger (don’t laugh) how could I refuse?
I couldn’t, of course.
Even when her request for the visit went from the initial and painless “We could just drive past and look at it, just on the road, you see, we wouldn’t have to actually come down the driveway,” (no problem!) to “Amy, please do keep your prepared comments down to 20 minutes or less–” (problem!).
“Prepared comments?” I sputtered, putting down the ‘phone. Gosh, I am not a public speaker and the thought of standing in front of twenty-some interns with a prepared speech turned me quivery and pale. I felt rising nausea and the beginnings of a sick headache, just thinking about it. Yikes. I was in trouble.
“Amalia,” I stammered, once I could find my voice again. “She wants me to speak. Sarah does. Like, out loud. To a whole bunch of people. Strangers. And I thought she was my friend. You know how sucky I am at public speaking.”
“Mom. You teach speech. And drama,” she pointed out, irrelevantly, “and I can’t believe you just said ‘sucky’”
“I know!” I wailed. “I am so distraught that I don’t know what I’m saying!”
“Mom,” Amalia continued, with a careless flip of her braids, “you like to talk about your garden to anybody. Just talk about your garden.” That sustained me. She had a point, as she so often does. I could do it. I’d simply talk about my garden. That didn’t sound so scary. And the hoop house, which basically houses the best part of my garden, anyway. I felt better. Mollified. For awhile.
The morning came. I tried to be calm.
Actually, I had other things to think about that morning, as well, so I was distracted enough not to obsess over the sucky job I would certainly do with my speaking gig. For example, I made a nice discovery–through my friend Gene–that big city chefs like weird, beautiful new things and what a coincidence that I like to grow so many weird and beautiful new things. Gene assured me that he could sell my borage blossoms to chefs that he markets to, so I pleased myself by picking borage blossoms first thing that morning, and getting them into the ‘fridge.
Pretty sweet way to spend a bit of time, first thing in the morning, if you ask me.
I’m so glad that God invented the color blue. The shade of blue that makes up borage blossoms is the most gorgeous color. Bar none. Thank you, God! I am grateful every day, every moment, that God didn’t just choose to make the world in blacks and whites and grays.
Or else . . . none of this!
So, that morning, I was cool and calm and collecting my borage blossoms. No. Problem. Like I had nothing at all in the world to dread or feel uncomfortable about.
But then I remembered. And when the caravan of vehicles showed up on the road and made its way down my driveway, yikes. Butterflies. My head started throbbing suddenly behind one temple. However. I took myself in hand, took a deep breath–once all the interns were assembled and staring at me–and I started talking about my garden. The one in the high tunnel. To all the scary strangers.
Actually, they were all quite nice, and they smiled and nodded and acted if I weren’t, possibly, the suckiest speaker they’d ever heard in their lives. And they even asked me quite a few questions, which I enjoyed answering. After all, I do rahther enjoy talking about my garden.
They even applauded at the end of my garden talk and tour, although, to be fair–Sarah started the applause, and Bryan assures me that that was probably a courtesy applause, everybody does it, it’s nothing special.
It was nice, even so. 🙂
After the caravan of vehicles wended their way back down the driveway, I took the first deep breath that I had taken since they had arrived, and the kids and I jumped into the Shimmy and drove in to town to pick up Mom, for a quick drive over to Gene’s house. I had a few things to take to him (including the borage blossoms) and Mom had asked if she could go along.
I learn very important things every time I go to Gene’s house. Every time. The man is just full of cool things to learn. This time, I learned two new things, in the few minutes that we were there. The man should teach a class. Wait. He probably does.
This is how experienced commercial tomato growers prune their tomato plants these days. I was astonished. What about photosynthesis, Gene? I sputtered. I blanched. I rubbed my eyes. This is taking pruning to the extreme.
(Also, I didn’t mention to Gene that I don’t prune my tomato plants at all. He would think me a rube and a wild tomato-growing hippy, letting them go so natural and whatnot. That’s just between you and me, though, Gentle Reader. When I fancy myself a bit time-generous, I’ll take off a few suckers, but that’s it. Again. Don’t share this with Gene, okay?)
On the other hand, these beautiful little Indigo tomatoes looked quite happy. Content. Satisfied in their severely-prunedness. Kinda carefree. They are living a minimalist lifestyle, which is quite trendy these days (I hear). Gene assured me that he would allow leaves to grow, eventually. And he does seem to know what he’s doing. (Whatever, Gene!)
I think . . . there are no strangers among folks who love to grow things. And this makes me happy. Even if I was kinda on the fringe of things. (Just kidding, Mom!)
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