Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Plot Thickens

The Putterer's Plot

The front door and the foyer

The Putterer preparing to putter.

Wednesday night after work, I hurried over to the home of a neighbor who had offered up some old timbers—pressure treated wood. They’d been piled up in his yard for more than seven years, he told me, so any leaching of dangerous chemicals would have already occurred. I piled a bucket, a watering can, my red radio flyer wagon, a small rake and a shovel into the car and headed slowly over to my plot (the wood hanging precariously out of the hatchback). Jim came along to help me unload (now he’s complaining of back pain, yikes!).

I had everything I needed, or so I thought. With the car unloaded and Jim gone, and oh yes, Patsy home cooking dinner (bless her) so that I could just work through the evening, it was just me, my plot, a few other gardeners and the desire to get my everything marked and ready for planting before I had to go to sleep and to work the next day.

The posts laid nicely into the shallow trenches I dug out all around the perimeter. One shorter than the other seven easily became the front foundation. Inside the plot, I laid two parallel down the middle to create my path. One more laid horizontal across the top designated the back “room.” That’s when I realized I was building a fort.
Just as when we were kids on a rainy day, we’d push the tables and chairs together and cover it all with a blanket. The compartments within the blanket complex easily morphed into our chambers and hallways. Cozy within, the play fantasies would tumble from our child minds. Here is the door, and here is my room, and over there is my brother’s lair, and my sister’s towered aerie. We’d grab nuts and apples from the kitchen, and hurry back, carrying cheese and pickle sandwiches, to host feasts for our guests in the great hall beneath the blanket. We built forts in every place we played. At my grandmother’s old farm house, we kept two competing forts—girls and boys—under the twin beds in the guest room. On fall days, we piled up leaves and made enormous walled mansions, laid out maze-like across all the yards in the neighborhood.

Inside my vegetable land fort, I traced out a narrow pathway, curving it for architectural effect, through the foyer to the front door. The large room at the back against the fence would be home to my bean tower. Maybe, I thought I could grow beans up the fence with a squash plant at their feet (dare I try corn for a three-sister’s garden?). Along the side, the left chamber would be home for my tomato friends. The right chamber, my cucumber and eggplant aerie.

A woman called from the street, “Looks nice!”

“I’m building a fort,” I yelled back, “Here is the front door,” I pointed with my shovel, “and this is the dining room and the living room.”

She walked away laughing. Crazy lady, I’m sure she was thinking.

Next, I loaded up my red wagon with the mulch chips the county had provided and dumped at the center of the garden. I used these to fill up my center path. The wagon traveled easily over the garden pathways. Back and forth I went, filling and dumping. The leaf mulch, also thoughtfully provided by the county, went into all the beds. And I grew thirsty and my back ached and my arms, covered with dirt, felt heavy at my shoulders.

But oh, so thirsty, and that was the thing I didn’t think to bring over. Water!

Nearby, my new friend Katie was planting her tomatoes in her plot, and she went out to her car and brought back little bottles of drinking water. The cistern in the garden was not yet filled or tapped and so Katie was carefully spilling the drinking water at the base of her tomatoes. I didn’t dare ask. The tomatoes would need it more than I.

I hurried to finish. At home, cool glasses of water and a hot tub to soak in would be my reward once my fort was built. The Putterer

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