taters

Due to a varied and dazzling array of circumstances, our gardens stopped receiving proper care about 3 months ago.  A vast disappointment to be sure, but it couldn’t be helped.  It wasn’t long until caretakers of the antlered and bovine varieties began making themselves at home in our formerly well-tended growing spaces and disaster was confirmed.
One beacon shone forth out of the mess: potatoes.  The critters can eat the tops and trample the rows, but they can’t harm the potatoes themselves.
Three nights that dipped into the 30’s were enough motivation for me to attempt a potato rescue.  So, Spud and I ventured forth on several days this week, some sunny, one windy, all cold, and began chipping away at the potato harvest of 2011.
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Having dug potatoes only once before, I’d forgotten the thrill of unearthing those golden nuggets from the soil.  Each plant is exciting mystery—if one is a dud, the next is sure to be a gold mine.
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For roughly half of the time I dig, alone with thoughts of whether or not to be concerned with the green grubs present in almost every emptied hole and remembrances of books read about the Irish Potato Famine.  I imagine what it would be like to be desperately searching the frozen ground for my next meal and coming up empty-handed.
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My favorite times, though, are when my partner in crime tires of his warm car cocoon, with its books and snacks and buttons, and joins me with his boundless energy, seemingly untouched by the cold as he gleefully jumps from hole to hole,
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making sure I have enough laundry to do when we return home.
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His first shows of masculine bravado combined with a genuine desire to help, tickle me to the core.
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As always, I inevitably spear a few,
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and his keen eyes spot some I missed.
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Our paces are evenly matched these days; we make a good team, digging just one hour a day.
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Only three more rows to go.  I think we might just make it.

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