Prosperity in Agriculture – Hannah W. Doggett

It’s been a quick summer. Between haulin’ water to keep the tomatoes alive in July and then dodging the rains between tomato harvests in August, I’ve plum lost the season.  These cooler days have been most welcome. This year I was able to resist jinxing the cool spells like I usually do when I pack my summer clothes in the cedar chest during the first cool snap. I’ve been burned too many times by September heat waves that return the second I pack the last sundress away. Not this time! And sure enough, here came another heat wave. Ha! 

The gardeners stopped cursing the drought and have had to find a new range of complaints. Some of them have a gift for finding something to lament. I guess we need those folks, too or the “for better, or for worse” pledge might have less weight. 

The rain is a blessing to everyone except those who have to go into the muddy pig yard. Mable cursed all last year because the rains made the pig yard a hazardous place. At least this year isn’t as bad. She almost gave up her Gloucestershire Old Spots, but demand for her homemade breakfast sausage was too strong for her to give it up. Lucky us! She did send Patrick to a new home. He broke out of the pig yard one time too many and turned up in her neighbor’s front yard. Well, do you know what a 1,000 pound boar does when he’s in your front yard? Well, he does anything he wants, of course. That tends to make relations with the neighbors tense. Mable lured him back to captivity with bananas- his favorite treat. But Costa Rica doesn’t grow enough bananas to keep him penned forever so he got relocated to a more secure location. Don’t worry, he’s still in business. 

Cousin Mary Lee’s brother-in-law Henry turned up this week with a whole bowl of ripe persimmons. He says this is the best season for them in years. I try to explain to foreigners that persimmons are like dates  – sugary treats with a large seed worth working around.  The old Christmas poem called these native orange fruits “sugar plums” which is as good a name as any, and less prone to scandal than when you ask your married guests if they’d like a date. Anyway, Henry took out his knife and completed the seasonal surgery to confirm what the Farmer’s Almanac is already telling us. He split the persimmon’s seed and guess what! There it was – clear as a spring-fed pond  – a perfect white spoon in the middle. Well, you know that means: lots of snow to shovel this winter – at least over by West Plains. He said that was the third spoon he’s seen so far this year. I’ve got to check the fruits around here in Booger County – I’m hoping for spoons too. Knives mean ice storms and that’s a mess I could live my whole life and never want to see an ice storm again after the last Big One.  Remember that icy blizzard? What was that? 2007? My car was a popsicle for 4 days and towns from Joplin to Lebanon were shut down for ages. For days, the dogs cowered under the bed every time another limb snapped in the woods with that unnerving explosive POP. Ever since, Elmer and I’ve been a little obsessive about firewood. But I’m wandering here. Back to now. After July, a fork in the persimmon seed would be most unwelcome – a dry winter is no fun. The spring plants have no reserves and the kids don’t get to go sledding. So I’m hoping for spoons. Snow would be okay as long as it’s within reason. Those six foot Michigan snows are too much for this old girl.

Barbara Mae has begun her annual search for May Pop fruits. She takes the oval fruits and makes the best jams. The city chefs are always looking for a gourmet ingredient to make their dishes different and this wild, weedy fruit is one of the best. The flowers are the craziest looking things that grow in these parts. God had something different in mind when he mixed those up with their wavy petals layered over plain ones with a tripod stamen and star in the middle. Someone named them Passion Flowers and found symbolism about Christ. The Holy Trinity and the Star of Bethlehem is much clearer to me in these blossoms, but I’ve been accused of having too little imagination. That must mean the crazy, twisted petals are the rest of us- flawed and messy but made fine in unity under the Trinity. I still get tickled that some of the best gourmet goodies grow in the ditches here in biscuit-and-gravy country. 

I guess I’d better get out and tend to my May Pops before Barbara gets them all. 

More news later from the Booger County pea patch. I’ll let you know if we turn up more spoons in the sugar plums.