Balancing Accounts

by Andy Griffin

An agricultural field, no matter how flat, square, or apparently featureless is always more than mere space to be crossed with a tractor. If you want the land to keep producing you need to look upon it as a bank. Every harvest is a withdrawal. When I walk the fields and note that our cover crop of fava beans has now grown to my knees I'm satisfied. I know that the foliage of the favas is transforming sunlight and rainwater into valuable plant tissue that I can turn under in the spring. My initial investment of three tons of fava bean seed spread out over six acres is gathering interest molecule by molecule, cell by cell.

Sometimes a field is the arena for an uncomfortable spurt of spiritual growth, as well. When an unusual snowstorm covered my field turning my parsley yellow, snapping the fennel stems, and burning the beet leaves brown I felt it like a shot to the gut. My initial reaction was a sense of persecution. "All of nature is against me."` My checking account had palpitations. I could feel the pulse of my cash flow weaken. "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away," I had to remind myself, "and often with the same gesture." Without a fierce cold to zap the insects into submission they would soon rage exponentially out of control. Without the creeping chill the strawberry plants would not be lulled into their dormant hibernation that gives them the strength to flower in the spring. Without the frost the parsnips and carrots would not be coaxed into extraordinary sweetness.

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And - ka ching - sometimes a field is a slot machine, as our helper Lourdes Duarte found out. As she was washing a pile of freshly dug carrots, still caked in mud, one carrot stayed plastered with a big glob of clay even as she sprayed it with the full force of the hose. Because Lourdes is careful and systematic she reached out to scrub the mud away with her hand. As she worked the mud melted under her thumb and she was left holding a sweet golden carrot and the shiny silver quarter from 1868 that had been glued to it. Buried treasure. She has taken the coin home as a well-earned tip from Mother Nature as a reward for her attention to detail. Maybe I should toss a quarter from 2002 into the furrow the next time we plant so that the soil doesn't feel depleted.

copyright 2002 Andy Griffin

For Carrot recipes, click here.



Lourdes holding her lucky 1868 quarter.