Missing My Girls: A Farmer’s Heartbreak

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I miss the way my hair would feel after a long day of staking monstrous, sticky stalks, finding the perfect nook to tie the green gardening tape onto the stake, and giving it a little shake just to make sure it could withhold the wind, and gasp… rain. It felt like a combination of glue and whatever those sticky rat traps are made out of. It would always wash right out, but I secretly liked it. Maybe it reminded me of the years I had dreadlocks, a little more exciting and voluminous than the plain strawberry blonde bun. It matched my resin-covered hands that would still stick together after I washed them off.

The resin and grime layer would get so thick it would sometimes protect me from splinters from the bamboo stakes. My sides would become sore from thrusting the big ones into the hard dirt. It took some practice; sometimes they would snap, and shards of dry bamboo would slice right into my palm. Good thing I obsessively wear sunglasses, or I definitely would have poked an eye out by now. There have been a few close calls.

By this time of year the ground was hard, dry and dusty. Work in the afternoon was risky; the thermometer that hung on the tree in the woods would sometimes read 105. If I worked through it, I was worthless for the rest of the day and maybe the day after that, so mornings and evenings were the most appropriate times to get things done.

I miss the way it would feel to peel off our hot socks and boots and sit on the porch in the shade with a snack, lounging in our chairs and listening to the solar powered radio. We would mostly eat sandwiches, but sometimes I would also make a special drink, or we might even have a small cup of tequila (if we were feeling awfully excluded from what felt like the rest of the world having a fabulous summer vacation while we worked away).

The last time I left the mountain, I wasn’t sure if I would be coming back. I had fled in a hustle, the dust flying up – obstructing the view of what was left of my little family – my man and my dog waiting to see if I would turn around. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even see them through the dust, and the country song on the radio fueled me to launch right out of there and hit the road as fast as I could four-wheel drive it without popping another tire.

I do miss them from time to time. But mostly I miss my ladies, all my girls growing big and tall. I miss waking up with my strong cup of black coffee, putting on yesterday’s dirty socks, tying up my worn shoes and heading down the hill to see them standing there, always different than the day before. Are they starting to flower yet? Have the pistils started to shoot out of the crotches of their thick stems? Has the afternoon breeze been kicking in around 3pm – encouraging them to do their shimmery dance, strengthening their cores and threatening my perfect staking job?


Photo Credit: Linda Cola