Tuesday, December 20, 2016

how does your garden grow

Voltaire concludes Candide, his clever satire of avarice, with the admonition that moral men cultivate their own gardens rather than plundering the gains of their neighbors.

Two weeks ago, my Mexican neighbor took that advice to heart by scraping a patch of land in the goat lot across the street (bearding the goat). In Paul Harvey fashion, this is the rest of that story.

The land has not laid idle since then. My neighbor trucked in several loads of dirt and rock that he formed into a raised bed. The dirt looked like most of the soil around here -- barely capable of nourishing the odd weed.

But the bed, mirabile dictu, is now the home of a tiny crop of struggling plants. Rosemary. Tomatoes. And an herb I cannot identify. But I am certain one of you can. And will.

The woman who built my house told me there would be a chain link fence around the garden to protect it from the goats. Obviously, that is not the case. I suspect that somewhere in the midst of French, Spanish, and English terms, I missed the point.

But, even the chicken wire seems a bit redundant. The goats appear to have been sold into culinary slavery. Their next appearance will undoubtedly be in a birria pot somewhere.

The presence of the garden is a constant reminder that over a year ago, I brought seeds to Mexico to start my own vegetable garden -- to replace our pitiful local excuse for tomatoes with heirlooms. They sit in their packets on my day bed waiting for an opportunity to satisfy me. With their biological clocks ticking away.

Unfortunately, there is no place in the house I can take advantage of their potential joy. I had planned on putting them in large pots upstairs on the terrace -- until I was advised that any runoff would permanently stain the tile.

Maybe I should inquire into the sharecropper agreement necessary to become part of the pastoral scene across the street. After all, I am a Powers boy at heart -- with a yen for good produce.

And a Voltairean heart.

For those of you who do not know Leonard Bernstein's finale to Candide (as well as those of you who do), here is a respectable presentation summarizing Voltaire's take on our existence.

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