Funny stuff about garden
October 28, 2015
September 30, 2015
By Ray Lesser
About 20 years ago, Sue and I moved to an old farm in the Appalachian hills of southern Ohio. The community was a mix between old-timers whose families had been there eking out a living for generations, and more recent arrivals, who were part of the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s and 70s. Living on one of our borders was Jake McCoy, who kept a small herd of beef cattle in a pasture next to our trailer. He would regularly drive his pickup truck right to our fence line, and feed his cows treats while standing up in the bed, where he could get a clear view of what we newcomers might be up to. Jake was a friendly sort, always willing to lend a tool or offer his opinion about nearby fishing and swimming holes. Jake and his boy liked to take their hounds down to the creek on Friday and Saturday nights and hunt squirrels, groundhogs and anything else that moved. We would often doze off, only to be awakened by their gunfire at one or two in the morning. But on Sunday mornings they’d be spiffed up in plenty of time to attend the little church that Jake’s grandparents had built.
On the other side of us was Starr Vega. Most of her time was spent operating heavy machinery for a road construction crew. Her home, an old farmhouse, was a mecca for stray cats and dogs, which she would rescue from worksites. The animals bred with each other, and in her frequent absence the dogs would sometimes wander around the neighborhood in a semi-wild pack. Starr was a follower of an obscure religious cult who believed in the visions and prophecies of an 18th century English poet, and were rumored to have orgies and pagan rituals on a nearby mountain top. But whenever we happened to see her, she was always friendly and full of advice about organic gardening, and offers of herbs and medicinal plants for our garden.
Although we got along fine with both Jake and Starr, they had a bitter feud going on with each other, dating back to years before we became their neighbors. Jake thought Starr was a witch and a devil worshipper (which was probably true), and frequently would shoot at her dogs when they strayed too close to his animals. Starr thought Jake was a drunken redneck, and had posted NO HUNTING signs all along her large property line, which Jake would ignore, or worse, shoot up with his rifle. He considered all the land in our valley, which his family had once owned, to be open to him for hunting, fishing, or foraging.
Things came to a head one September. Starr’s horse kept turning up in different neighbors’ pastures. Starr apologized to each neighbor, but accused Jake of cutting her fences in order to purposely let the horse out. Jake said she was nuts, that her fenceposts were all as rotten as her soul, and that she was probably letting her horse out on purpose, because the only way the neighbors would ever invite her to visit was if they needed her to come and retrieve the horse.
One morning we awoke to find Starr’s horse penned in our garden, munching on the remains of the sweet corn. There was no evidence that any of the sturdy (and electrified) fencing around the garden had been breached. The only way the horse could have gotten there was if someone had walked her through the gate.
So we began baking. First we made a batch of apple pies, and then for good measure some pumpkin pies as well. When the pies were cool we took a couple with us and led Starr’s horse back to her pasture. Inside Starr’s kitchen we shared the pies and conversation about our dreams of gardens and orchards, of peace and fun. Before we left we noticed a homemade straw doll on her counter which bore a striking resemblance to Jake McCoy. A large pin was stuck in the doll’s shoulder. “It’s not as bad as it looks,” Starr said. “I just wanted to hurt him a little.” We asked if she might consider removing the pin. “I’ll think about it,” she said, “if he stays off my land, and stops shooting at my dogs.” She sent us home with a talisman, a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and a jar of blackberry jam.
Next we made a trip over to Jake’s farm. His wife Mabel greeted us and called Jake in from the barn. When he appeared he was rubbing his shoulder. “You got any of that liniment, Mabel. My bursitis is acting up again,” he said. We each had another piece of pie and a nice chat about ticks and snakes and septic systems. When the subject came around to Starr Vega, Jake said he was tired of feuding with her, and had decided it wasn’t worth it to hunt on her land anymore, and that he was planning on staying as far away from it as possible. Mabel looked surprised. “When did you decide that?”
“Woman, I don’t have to tell you everything I’m thinking. If I did, when would I have time to chaw tobacco, or do anything else?” Before we left he went into his freezer and gave us a package of venison steaks, and some of a homemade concoction which he assured us would keep our cats from getting worms.
We never found Starr’s horse in our garden again, although occasionally tempers would flare up, and we’d hear Starr’s dogs and Jake’s hounds barking and baying at each other in the night, or see Jake feeding his cattle next to our fence, rubbing his shoulder. But then we’d just whip up another batch of peace pies, and make a round of neighborly visits.
By Ray Lesser
Soon after God made heaven and earth, and gold, and precious gems, and beachfront property, and lots of other stuff worth fighting over, he realized there was nobody around to admire his handiwork, or lust after it, and covet it. So He formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And man said, “God, create some mouthwash before you breathe up my nose again!” God named the man Adam, and gave him an apple.
Then Adam moved into the Garden of Eden, on a one year lease with an option to buy. All was basically right with the world, except that Adam was lonely, and he didn’t have anyone to talk to, so he was always talking to God. All day and night Adam would be asking God questions, and complaining about how his feet hurt, and wondering if maybe the high-fiber diet he was on was giving him the runs, and pestering God to create some toilet paper. Finally God couldn’t stand it anymore, because he wasn’t getting any work done on the rest of the universe, so he grabbed one of Adam’s ribs, and from it created Eve. And He saw this was good, because now Adam could pester her all day.
Most of the time, Adam and Eve got along fine, but sometimes they argued. Have you ever lived with anybody else? Then you know how it is. “It’s your turn to pick a salad for dinner.” “Well then it’s your turn to pick the lice out of my hair.” “Why did you wake me up?” “Because you’re snoring!” “I don’t snore.” “Oh, yeah? Just wait till God creates a tape recorder and I’ll prove it to you!” So there’d be some bickering now and then. Especially when God booted them out of the Garden of Eden for violating the lease agreement. But eventually Adam and Eve came to love each other, because, really, what choice did they have? It was either that or the sheep.
So it came to pass that Eve gave birth to a son named Cain. As long as Cain was an only child, everything was great. His mother and father doted over him, sang to him, and told him a story from the bible. It was a very short bible back in those days, but Cain was kind of slow, and didn’t mind hearing the same story over and over. During the day Cain played with his toys. Of course, at that time all the toys were Cain’s toys, which Cain liked very much, even though all he had were a pile of smooth rocks and a pointy stick.
Then his brother Abel was born, and from day one, you just knew there was going to be trouble. The first thing Cain did when he saw Abel was to poke him with his pointy stick. Eve asked, “Why is your brother bleeding?” Cain replied, “How should I know.” Eve said, “Well, what is your pointy stick doing in his crib?” And Cain said, “It isn’t mine.” And Eve said, “But it’s got your mark right on it, see your X?” And Cain said “Then that little creep stole it from me, Mom. Make him give it back!” And Eve said, “He’s not going to give it back, because he needs it to protect himself from people who might do him harm.” And so, before he could even talk Abel was already armed, and at war with his brother.
When he got older Abel would take Cain’s rocks and put them in his mouth and get spit all over them. This would make Cain very angry, but all he could do was cry, because if he came too close Abel would poke him with the pointy stick.
Eventually Cain came up with an elaborate plot. He would get Abel out into the open country and kill him, but make it look like a suicide. When Abel went to sleep Cain grabbed the pointy stick and stuck it into him. Unfortunately, this made for an unconvincing suicide, since he speared Abel in the back. Also when he went to forge the suicide note he realized the only letter he knew was X. So the note read XXXXX. X. Back in those days Judge was not an elective office, and Cain’s faked evidence didn’t hold up too well in court. God gave Cain a life sentence and cast him out into the land of Nod.
While he was nodding out, Cain had a son, who he named Enoch. Then he built a city, which he also named Enoch, after his son. Then he started a bakery which he named Enoch’s Bakery, and also a dry cleaner’s named Enoch’s Dry Cleaners. So they prospered and ate bread and had very clean clothes, but still they lusted after more.
One day a wandering tradesman came by. I’m not sure exactly where he came from, but if you’ve ever watched the X-Files, or dreamed you were Marilyn Monroe, you know the kind of strange things that can happen. The tradesman plunked himself down in the middle of Enoch (the city) and started building a blacksmith shop, with an attached restaurant and coffee bar. As much as Cain longed for some companionship, and a good cup of espresso, he was jealous, because he hadn’t thought of the idea first. So he marched over to the stranger, whose name was Tubal, and demanded that he leave.
“But if I leave, who’s going to make you coffee?” asked Tubal.
Cain said, “I’ve got an offer from Starbucks to buy this property. Go out and build your own city.”
“But I like it here. There are customers,” said Tubal.
And Cain said, “If you don’t leave, you’re committing suicide, because the competition is going to eat you alive.”
“I don’t think I like the tone of this conversation,” said Tubal. But business is business, and so, much like Jimmy Hoffa, he wound up disappearing and was never heard from again.
A great deal more mayhem, killing and war took place after that, but if you want to find out about it, you’ll have to buy the book, or at least the daily newspaper.