Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Potato Dig!

I deadheaded big beautiful wilting, tilting, fading dahlias.  I threw them into the wheelbarrow and put the occasional one in a can with water.  These were destined for the student flower table to live on a few more days under the loving eyes of a resident.  Bees, drunk on pollen, moving slowly in the yellow center of red "arabian nights" flowers, had to get a move on as I reluctantly cut down their source of food and pleasure.  They moved on.  I looked for tiny buds, future flowers, to leave behind in the wake, the flourish of purple, pink, yellow, and white.
I look at my watch, 1:56, time to go! Danny, Christina, and I walk lightly with a little pep toward the farm.  There's a mystery ahead with this "potato dig."  As announced at work circle by Sara Tashker, there will be drumming and fun.  It gets warmer and sunnier with each step we take.  It seems we are the first to arrive.  A table is set out to illustrate the three "classes" of potato, each sign with a few potatoes to give a visual.  There's the "1st" potatoes, as in, "1st" rate?  No disease, no damage, no green, not huge.  There's "GGF" potatoes. No disease, damage ok - if healed, less than 1/4 green.  There's compost potatoes, which is pretty much everything else.  Oh yeah, and small is good.  Fancy. Premium.  Everything is better if it's tiny, right?  Cute.  Finally there is a table for the oddities.  Strange shapes, likenesses of famous people, and of course the classic cock and balls.  One example looked like a manatee.  That was cool.
The sun is getting hotter.  Feels good.  Rows and rows of dirt upturned by the tractor.  Potatoes exposed.  More people trickle down.  Mary and I will work together.  We take our "fingerling 1st" and "fingerling GGF" boxes and find a row.  Sara Davis tells us they will be sorted again as they are washed so we can go fast.  And fast we go!  The sun is hot, I take of my long sleeve and tie it over my shaved head.
Where's the drumming I wonder.  I see Mick the baker walking down the road with his usual t-shirt with the sleeves cutoff and baggy pants.  He's carrying large bongo drums in a black bag.  Someone has setup a flatbed truck in the middle of the field.  With the first hit of his hand on the skin my heart swelled, my head bobbed and my pace quickened. I laughed.  I howled!  With his sunglasses on, he looked like a blind man.   Seeing the sound with his hands.  Up and down the rows, boxes and people and potatoes, of all kinds.  I don't even like potatoes that much but today they were beautiful.  My eyes quickly learned to see the hidden dirt covered root vegetables that blend in with the clods of rich crumbly earth.  Sometimes I'd squat with open hips, sometimes I'd bend over with my arm resting on one thigh, sometimes I'd kneel on the ground sucking in my belly, aware of my back.
I looked at my watch, 2:57, time to go back to my other work.  Sad to go.  The drumming and howling continued.
Happy Food Awareness Month!

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