Perils of Gardening
It seems that one evening we were invited to a friend’s home, ya, it was my brother Crow’s place, for an evening of banter, fellowship and delicate cuisine served there among love-struck song birds and screaming flush of summer flowers. I went deep into a spiritual discussion on the merits of gardening noting the many fine features of their farming efforts and, of course, criticizing the weaknesses such as the puny, poorly committed pepper plants and the less-than-spectacular browned-out tomato foliage, too limp to have serious production status.
It is well known in our family, it is good
to be critical of an individual’s efforts as a way of raising one’s own ego or
self-esteem whichever comes first. In other words, it has value to lambaste any
little thing out of order, or that which is not a picture of agrarian success.
In truth, by my careful observation, some of his vegetables showed little
promise or lacked much redeeming value even to the glutinous, over zealous,
tooth-heavy, woodchuck, but admittedly, other vegetables, like the onions and
carrots were rather spectacular (painful to admit that) and the flower
selection along with the corn was awe-inspiring.
In my world, it is also fair game to pilfer some of their efforts by simply grabbing the produce and consuming it on the spot while doing a critique of that particular vegetable, because, after all, some items simply look good but have no character (just like people). Again, the purpose is to find fault and then belittle failed efforts—–and yet compliment, if ever so lightly, the successes.
There in the miserable area of his garden was this despondent, stunted pepper plant that oddly had on it some rather colorful red peppers of a smaller persuasion. They were not recognizable as being of a hot sort but one probably of a sweeter demeanor and therefore worth testing in a gentlemanly, and heart-felt manner.
Prior to the pepper consumption and with
my belly tight to the the finely set table, I commented, somewhat in jest, on
the throngs of biting insects and diving fruit bats all festooned and infested
with various parasites—even-though the truth was quite the opposite. This
simply was a way of implying my urban setting was more pleasant, even if we do
have more Norwegians. Again, there is this need to make one look superior, and
noting the vermin in another’s holdings, is a good place to go—I believe.
While I had in hand a nice brew of my own making, I took a small nip on the end of the selected pepper and found it to be most pleasant, sweet, flavorful, reminiscent of our years on the Mediterranean while in the company of Ernest Hemingway. “I’m impressed with this fine looking pepper even if it came from that half-rotted plant,” I noted. Crow nodded, basking at an actual compliment.
“Why thank you. I believe I selected well on the plant choice.”
Lifting the red jewel in a half salute as if a fine cognac, and in great aristocratic confidence, I took a great bite consisting of most of the four inch beauty thinking to follow it with a gulp of my excellent brew.
Sweet jumping lizards skipping across the
tundra on a rubber crutch, I made a mistake! I have never been wrong before,
but I have made mistakes and this was one of them.
My head fell back and my eyes rolled into their sockets, my tongue swelled and burned much like it had when tortured in the war (the Big War when I served in a British Thermal Unit)–it was the hot iron on the tongue gambit. My breath was short and my pulse increased to 2000 beats. The only solution was the beer and I had no choice but to use it as a coolant much like ethylene glycol is used to cool a motor. I couldn’t swallow the beer and it began to boil. My eyes were half closed and while I was unable to speak, numerous profane thoughts passed through my now inflamed mind.
My fist hit the table and my knees
quivered as I started to go into a frothing catatonic fit of some sort. I
wanted to cut my tongue out even with a dull spoon. A sweat broke out as I
faced a near death experience. My glorious, maybe delusional, life, flashed in
front of me.
I tried crackers and cheese and vegetables (no more peppers) and was about to start eating grass when it finally began to dissipate. Through blurred, with still steaming eyes, I looked around thinking someone had run for help, cream cheese, the garden hose, maybe a moist cold cloth with ice cubes. The others, including my wife, sat there covering their collective mouths fighting laughter, emitting not one ounce of sympathy, had made no motion for help. No, not one. Only laughter and derision, and accusations of theft, and disrespect, of weakness and even of stupidity.
I was deemed a loser, a man of weak character. Personally, I think it was a trick, a way to make me explore compassion, an appreciative individual who will never say another critical thing about anybody’s garden.
Well, my mouth is better but my mind is not very apologetic. Imbedded in me is a standing desire that one day that brother Crow casually harvests one of my Scorpion Peppers and then in a thoughtless moment touches his naughty bits.