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Weekend Reckoning

Garage Rags
Garage Rags

Supper was a leftover jar of bean soup, sage and cheddar biscuits, and apple crisp from last year’s crop.

It was delicious… an apple joke.

I set my alarm for 4 p.m. to begin two hours of cooking. I also wanted to hear Garrison Keillor’s radio show from Tanglewood. He’s retiring in July.

Keillor lucked into radio.

“Through a series of coincidences, I lucked onto this show, for which I had no aptitude to speak of, sort of like a kid in Port-au-Prince who’s never seen ice becoming captain of the Haitian Olympic hockey team,” Keillor wrote in an email sent Saturday afternoon. “I was never in theater, never sang in public, but I had grown up at the end of the radio era so I had some ideas about how it might sound. I was a plodder, but persistent.”

So did I luck into a pattern of preparing Saturday dinner with A Prairie Home Companion in the background. All of my other favorite Saturday shows on public radio are gone – likely as a result of budget cuts. Soon Keillor will be gone too. New times require new patterns and I’m okay with that.

Saturday’s harvest included a head of cauliflower, carrots, turnips, an onion, two bunches of celery, and lots of kale for the kitchen and to give to library employees. The herb garden is coming along. I didn’t pick basil but will need to soon.

Planting included an acorn squash seedling and some dill, both given to me by a library worker. The Swiss chard seedlings went into the ground, as did some more jalapeno peppers. I planted lettuce where the carrots grew. The overnight thunderstorm provided needed rain.

Turk's Turban Squash Plant
Turk’s Turban Squash Plant

The harvest was shortly after sunrise. I was out in time to see dew around the edges of the Turk’s Turban heirloom squash plant leaves. It’s as if the leaf was a large moisture collection device, and the drops waiting to get big enough to roll to the ground and provide moisture to the roots. Summer Saturday harvest is becoming one of my favorite times.

After lunch I organized and cleaned the garage, which is to say I put things away, swept the floor and laundered the rags. I decided to leave the bagging attachment on the John Deere for another pass at collecting garden mulch. It’s debatable whether more is needed. It can always be composted if not used.

It’s been a couple of tough weeks in the news, making it difficult to process what’s happened in society. The murders at Pulse Orlando kicked off a series of news cycles that have been enervating at best, at worst a beginning of the end of society as we know it.

There’s a lot to write about. The futile efforts of the U.S. Congress to call attention to gun violence and do something about it, the referendum in Great Britain about whether to leave the European Union, a slate of Supreme Court decision announcements, the peace agreement between the FARC rebels and the Colombian government, and more.

What caught my attention midst the swirl of current events was yesterday’s 140th anniversary of Custer’s last stand during the battle of Little Bighorn in southeastern Montana. During a visit to the battlefield it occurred to me Custer was a fool. The idea the Seventh U.S. Cavalry Regiment could prevail in that open terrain was ridiculous.

Little Big Horn was part of a genocide that began shortly after arrival of Europeans in the west. It found it’s last practical expression 14 years later in 1890 on the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee. Leonard Peltier’s case notwithstanding, our war with native populations in the Americas is finished.

The removal of cultures is in many ways the history of the country. We removed native populations, trees and wildlife and called it “settling.” Surveyors laid out a pattern of land use that enabled us to settle the prairie and forget what once was here. Oak-hickory forests, tall grasses and bison as far as human eyes could see have been relegated to special heritage sites. It’s not all been good but it is what we live with.

As rain falls, reminding me to clean the gutters, it’s hard to miss the need to engage in society outside a surveyed lot in Big Grove. To sustain a single life requires engagement in everything around us and many things that no longer are here. At least that’s how I cope with American violence and sustain the will to do something more about it.