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Amanda's Garden Agenda

 Amanda's Garden 

 Words to guide, inspire and entertain  


Old Farmers

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

My husband [he’s Max] and I have a big black Yamaha motorcycle named Rita, which we’re addicted to, and ride as much as we can, especially in the summer. Yes, we wear all the gear. Even when it’s stinking hot.


We had gotten pleasantly lost way down South Jersey, where the farm country remains untouched. We were very thirsty and cranky with hunger; there was a cute little farm stand; we stopped. Now we thought that likely we would scare the farmers [black gear, black bike, and some tattoos] but no… the old man came limping out and talked about a german bike he’d stolen in the Big War. The old woman waved, we went in and bought home grown apples, water, and a muffin to share. We talked about everything, talk you can only have with folks with no agenda. These people grew food, had a stand, sat in lawn chairs, sold the food, and talked to strangers. They were so, I don’t know… they looked like Idaho potatoes. That sounds unflattering, but it’s hard to say what I mean. They were dirty. That doesn’t sound nice either…. They had worked their whole lives with soil and plants. They were permanently stained with the earth they lived on, they were the color of their land and were as wrinkled and peaceful as two figs. Their produce was ordinary and very pretty, and they farmed very small scale. When I went out back to use the port-a-pot, I noticed six odd plants there in the dirt. In a minute I realized they were cotton, and the bolls had opened. I’d never seen cotton in person before. With a little guilt I picked my way in and stared closely; it’s an amazing plant. Where did it originate? Why don’t I know all this stuff?

I went out front and said to the old fig: is that cotton back there? She nodded and grinned. Isn’t it neat? she said. We’ve never grown it before and so we thought we’d see what happened if we did. Her smile was so childlike and lively, and she got such a kick out of those six plants. This is the tradition we keep whenever we get dirt under our nails and kneel in earth. This is what keeps us where we ought to be in the cycle of everything. Bless them both; when I get old I want to be a wrinkly old fig.

Amanda Bennett

photo: Amanda Bennett,

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Horse Corn

Monday, June 23, 2014

When my husband and I were young, we were unemployed for more than a year. We also still could sleep on the ground, drive all day, eat anything… ah well. This is likely why I ache so much now.

We traveled the country, everywhere but the Deep South, and having survived a very surreal 3-day run through Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois, came into the purple hills of Nebraska. Who knew that the Midwest was hiding that gem in the middle of all that beige? Max was driver and I was map-reader, which gave me the job of finding stopping spots for the night. In Maxwell, Nebraska, there was a horse ranch that advertised a wide, grassy campground and trail rides into Indian burial mounds. It seemed perfect to me, although Max was doubtful of the horses.


The owner’s name was Les Beebe, and he had a thousand acres and four teeth. He was reserved when we met him, since we were Easterners, until Max said ‘my name is Max, and I’m pleased to meet you’, stuck out a hand, which Les grinned and shook, and we were no longer sleazy people from Jersey. He said, ‘you know, I had some other folks from New Jersey here last year. Found ‘em in my cornfield stealing corn. I’d have give it to ‘em if they asked. Corn’s nearly free anyhow. But these poor thieving souls didn’t even know that they was stealing horse corn! You can’t eat that. Now if they had asked I’d have give ‘em sweet corn, and not chased ‘em off. What’s with you Easterners anyhow? They don’t even know enough to stake down a tent. Last folks I got here from the East set up a tent in a field and went walking; tent blew away directly.’

The hills were purple and the fields were green, we were camped in a tent in a herd of camper-trailers, we’d had a hot shower and some dinner, and I was thinking about those fools in the corn, sneaking around. It still makes me giggle.

We had also, incidentally, staked down our tent.

Amanda Bennett

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