Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Digging in the Dirt

June 5, 2013 Early a.m. Pond Report:


June 5, 2013 10 a.m. Pond Report:

Blue Heron flaps southwest, low and clears the fence, lands among the willows. Never to be seen the rest of the day...bum. There's bull frogs that need eating.

June 5, 2013 2 p.m. Pond Report:

Clouds build behind the Selkirks...more aptly, the Selkirk Pine Bumps. The Selkirks proper, with snow-capped peaks loom behind. In our valley, the bumps with their spiny pines hide the bigger peaks, except one nameless crest. I will look into the name (the actual name).

Garden Horses & View of Pond
The pond is quiet; Blue Heron hides and the goose family nibbles bugs and roots in the pasture. An osprey circles and passes the pond. The horses join me in the garden. Well, I'm in the garden and they swish tails at flies on the other side of the fence. The garden has a perfect pond view as I steadily dig dirt.

Last week I told Todd that I loved this dirt so much, I wanted Tonka trucks. The dirt gives beneath me, soft like an old mattress, sensual to dig in with toes, fingers, palms. My brow sweats and I streak black dirt across my forehead, wiping at it. This dirt is part of me.

Asparagus Bean Teepes
Local soil descriptions mention volcanic ash. My husband points out that this land was part of the pond's peat bog. Indeed, clumps of peat cling to nooks and crannies of the ranch. My daughter, with a geo-science degree, says my soil sounds soapy. I just like how it feels when I dig, crawl and tread barefoot.

Corn Block & Squash Mounds
The bigger question is what will grow in my garden? I'm more of "possibilities artist" when it comes to answering. Seed packets tell me what to do and when, but I'm in no mood for rules out here in the dirt. I see a fence line and imagine it covered with scarlet runner beans. For years I've grown these beautiful little bean pods with brilliant red flowers. It's a great climber and I plant every last seed I saved from a previous harvest.

MN Wild Flowers & Possibilities
What next? I have a random collection of organic and heirloom seeds from High Mowing, Territorial Seeds and Seed Savers. It is old treasure that I sow within view of Elmira pond. Three summer squash mounds, three sweet pie pumpkin mounds and two asparagus bean teepees later and I take a break, petting Pistol's head. My fingers scratch his muscular neck, under his mane and he feels sweaty, too. The faint odor of horse and dirt settles in my nose.

Back to digging, I pull out clumps of buried grass and weeds from earlier rototilling. We must pause at this point and recognize my husband's brief "hero status" for the chore. Brief only because he has neglected other chore requests. The churned dirt gives way easily to my digging hands as I create four short trenches and plant red corn. Who knows? I sow and wait. It's a lot like faith.

Potted Herbs from Yokes (Sage & Curry)
The worst thing to happen is that a planting fails. If it does, I'll plant again. Garden digging is ongoing. Plant carrots, plant more in three weeks and continue until the ground freezes or the snow hampers digging. Plant peas and beans. After the short burst of harvest, plant 'em again. Once the second harvest is over, start planting cooler crops in their stead; kale and broccoli. Be creative, have fun and don't think you have to follow the rules. Just dig. Sow. Harvest. Learn. Love. Watch the pond.

June 5, 2013 8 p.m. Pond Report:

The kitchen at Elmira Pond officially closed at 6:30 p.m. due to intense digging. Dinner commenced three miles down the road at Samuel's Store. The Blue Heron Cafe is tucked behind everything you'd expect at a gas station store. Only, you wouldn't expect this scratch-cooking cafe with it's juicy jalapeno burgers, beer-batterd calamari and Saturday night prime rib. The best.

On the way I spy Blue Heron still hiding in the willows. On the way back, one German Short-haired Pointer escapes the car unleashed and chases the goose family into the pond. Geese are fine, honking in irritation. Dog is wet, irritating her human companions. Dog is smiling.

June 5, 2013 11 p.m. Pond Report:

Five really bad tuba players honk, grunt and bellow in mating desperation. This is not a sound I dig.


  1. I'm freshly 23, but mamma, you make me want to retire to the mountains!!

    1. Did I mention...there's rocks to climb behind the ranch? :-)