Soon to be renowned!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!

"Because his feet were tired of hustling, he picked out a large clump of bushes and sat right down in the middle and ate blueberries."  -Robert McCloskey, Blueberries For Sal

Blueberry Hill it's not, but a modest bed of five blueberry bushes ('Duke', 'Earliblue', 'Sunshine Blue', 'Pink Lemonade' and 'Koralle') ought to provide a Tremendous Mouthful or two of decent berries. The only problem is, my feet are already tired of hustling. I'm not sure if I can wait for these to fruit.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nectarine Dreams

And the award for Fencebroke's first blossom goes to … Hardired Nectarine! Sorry, dandelions, you've been disqualified for stuffing the ballot box.

Despite being recently planted and heavily pruned, this plucky nectarine dug deep and produced no fewer than three of these gorgeous flowers (also no more than three, but that's beside the point). Since this is at least three times the production I was expecting this first year, I have consequently adjusted the projected growth of FPG's nectarine division upward. Assuming a yearly growth of 300%, I have concluded that, within a few years, my wife and I should be able to quit our dayjobs, support our family, and lead lives of elegant excess (in fact, we have appointments with several fine haberdashers and milliners this weekend; it's about time our hats reflect our projected lifestyle!)—all on the output of this one phenomenal nectarine tree!

We are now accepting pre-orders for crates of Fencebroke nectarines, although I must warn you that our entire projected crop of 2020 has been set aside for the state of California, which has prudently decided to import our fruit rather than compete.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gardening is Hard

I don't know how I failed to realize this before. Nearly five years I spent as a professional gardener—a grizzled green-collar mercenary battling my way through clients' front lines of horticultural revolt—but somehow the epiphany only struck this weekend, in my own backyard. I suppose this would be akin to a true mercenary, having spent a decade or so embroiled in bitter civil war and sectarian conflicts, suddenly reaching the astonishing conclusion that humans don't always see eye to eye—but only after returning home and getting in a tiff with his wife over how to properly launder bedsheets.

When I was a Gardener by trade, every drop of sweat—every pulled muscle, dislocated joint, and hideous sunburn—were chalked up as hazards of the job. Gardening was hard work, but in my professional career, all work has been hard. That's what makes it work. In exchange for 8 hours worth of pulling up sod and throwing my back out, I got a paycheck. But now, when it's on my own dime, I am starting to see that gardening as a hobby is hard; it's difficult; it's tricky; it's time consuming; it's grueling. When things go wrong, rather than getting paid overtime to make them right, I now have to go back to the nursery and spend more of my money (sorry, baby, our money) to fix things. If I hurt my back lifting a stump into a wheelbarrow, the doctor's bill shows up in my mailbox, not L&I's. If a section of lawn-edging doesn't look quite right, I have to stare at it every day, annoyed, until the irritation builds to an unreasonable, fiery rage and I tear up the plastic, throw it on a fire, and douse the whole yard with the ensuing napalm.

This gardening thing is kind of a bum deal.

Except that it's not. Whatever pain, expense, or frustration pops up along the way, I've never been happier than I am in the backyard with my wife and daughter. No matter the dirt, sweat, fatigue or Daisy-induced delays; no matter that it may only be for fifteen, exhausted minutes after getting home from a full day of real work, I still love gardening. Even if it is hard.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Beastbarrow

Every boy dreams of his first wheelbarrow. Right? From the moment we set eyes on that hot cherry red number down at the hardware store when I was 6, it becomes an obsession. We all wanted one for Christmas; we all thumbed through dogeared Sears catalogs circling and crossing out and then re-circling the perfect model; we all practiced our skills on that rusty, flat-tired relic out in the shed. At birthday parties, we'd choke down our envy when friends or classmates received their first beginner's barrow before me. Lucky jerks didn't know how good they had it.

It is the object of every generations' desire. What boy doesn't remember long nights at sleepovers? Taking turns with our pals describing my platonic wheelbarrow, its many features. Asking the important questions like: ash handles or steel? 6 cubic foot or something non-standard? What do you think of those fancy two-wheeled monsters, gimmicky or gotta-have? At dawn's break, our heads full of wanting, we'd finally doze off sharing dreams of The One.

We saved up, of course, all us boys. We saved my hard-earned chore money; we peddled odd-jobs; we sold lemonade; we scoured the couch and laundry room for coins. On weekends, we'd beg our parents for a ride to the hardware store, to drool over those floor models. Six months, we figured, maybe a year, until I'd saved enough to buy one. We circled a date on the calendar.

And then, somewhere along the way, that plink plink plink of carefully counted and recounted change faded away, and our dreams of wheelbarrows-to-come trundled along the way of most childhood dreams … and I grew up. Us boys forgot about those mighty backyard wagons and focused instead on girls and school and baseball and cars and pogs (there's no use denying it) and guitars and girls and taxes and houses and girls and kids and investment accounts and dietary restrictions.

Buried beneath it all, somewhere, was that waylaid wonder of the wheelbarrow.

Buried, but unearthed, at long last, today. Lest we overlook the many freedoms of adulthood for its many burdens, allow me to present Fencebroke's newest member—his strength is legendary, his temper (though surly) is true, he has a solid-core, never-flat tire and freaking steel handles. He is called Fireox, The Beastbarrow … and he is mine.
All hail Fireox!