May 12, 2011

Charlotte and I are elbow-deep in a pit, looking at zucchini roots and trying to figure out what sort of pest, EXACTLY, has been having our squash for lunch, and suddenly there he is.  Hi, Wyatt, I say.  Hi there, he says.  Looks like you got yourself some vine borers.  Pesty little buggers, aren’t they?

Wyatt is five feet something of spitting twang, but what’s more?  That man is nearly a century of farming know-how.  Before I’ve even had a chance to ask what a vine borer is, he’s whipped out a pocket knife and sliced into my zucchini plant.  He leverages the stalk at the base of the plant open a bit and shows me.  Then he scrapes them out with the knife and flicks them into Charlotte’s hands.

WUM! (worm), she cries, running toward the chicken coop.  Wyatt chuckles.

Over the next few minutes, Wyatt shows me how to re-plant the squash to discourage other pests and encourage plant growth.  Then he tastes the soil.  Never mind, he says, this isn’t the best spot for them.  Let’s move them over there.  It takes the two of us another ten minutes to rid all of the zucchini plants of the vine borers and move them to the other side of the garden and the whole time he’s yapping.  In ten minutes, I learn more about zucchini varieties, root systems, pests, and growth than I have in over a year of devouring garden books.  When we’re through, there’s an entire bucket of worm-like things for Charlotte.  HEP-PING! (helping), she yelps as she totes it toward the coop.  CHI-KEN! HEP-PING! ME!

As quickly as he came, he is gone.  This is how he is, I suppose.  My entire life, I spoke half a dozen words to the man.  Then one day he found out I had a vegetable plot and he’s been stopping by regularly every since.  He never calls first.  Sometimes I can tell he’s been by when I was out because a plant was moved into the sunlight or watered or a pile of pulled weeds has mysteriously appeared at the edge of the garden or a small bag of seeds is tucked into the doorjamb or a label with shaky handwriting was placed beside a row of beans.  Once, he said something that rattled around in my head for days afterwards.  He said that I’m the only young person left listening to him.

I watch my daughter fling vine borers at our chickens and I feel suddenly curious about Wyatt.  I wonder what he has to say that I haven’t heard yet.  I wonder what other people in my life are saying that I’m not listening to.  I wonder if this is where the true value in gardening lies - in community, in shared knowledge, in passing down life-sustaining wisdom from one generation to another.  And a couple hours later as Charlotte and I are ending our garden work, I find myself making a note to invite him in for tea or water next time he stops by.

I have some questions about a couple wild onion transplants.  And something tells me I know just where to find the answers.

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  1. By on May 12, 2011

    It sounds like you have found a gem in Wyatt.  While reading your post I was thinking about the knowledge and life experience being passed down and how much I miss my grandparents not being alive anymore…I think I need to find me a Wyatt

  2. By Courtney L @ Bundle of Wonder on May 12, 2011

    Ah, this brought tears to my eyes!  This makes me think of another post you did about visiting the elderly and how people nowadays don’t really care about them.  It’s true.  It’s why I’ve been going to Harper’s great-grandparents houses more often and why I’ve been getting them to open up about things.  They’ve been around for awhile and what they have to say sure proves that!  I think we tend to dismiss the elderly because they *might* have dementia or Alzheimer’s or some other mind altering disease.  I think people tend to think that ALL elderly people just rattle on for no reason.  I whole-heartedly disagree and it saddens me that we don’t take more time to really listen to what these elderly people have to say.  If we did, there’s a lot to be learned from them I’m sure.  Kudos to you for realizing this.  Wyatt might just really need someone to talk to and to have someone listen to him.

  3. By Jessika on May 12, 2011

    Gardens are merely beckoning beacons for friends and neighbors to have an excuse to stop on by. :)

  4. By Momiss on May 12, 2011

    You have an angel on your hands, my dear.  Also, I seem to remember you wondering how you could integrate older people into Charlotte’s life….....  See how we always have exactly what we really need placed exactly when and where we need it?  I feel so much better after reading this!

  5. By on May 12, 2011

    @momiss hits it exactly like I will, Sarah. Here’s an elder of the village transmitting the culture through the most basic of ways: direct communication/teaching. You are a lucky woman to have this man in your life—maybe a cookie with that cuppa you and he will share soon ?~!

  6. By Laura Bishop on May 12, 2011

    You are so lucky to have met a friend like that! How neat! Invite him to dinner for sure! Please :)

  7. By on May 12, 2011

    I also must say, I love how he just stops by unannounced. When did our generation get so hoity-toity that we can’t be comfortable with unannounced visitors?
    Love it. Wish I had visitors like that sometimes :)

  8. By on May 13, 2011

    Jessika, I LOVE your comment.

  9. By Cynthia Krajcarski on May 14, 2011

    What a wonderful relationship.

    Laura Bishop - I love that you used hoity-toity to describe our generation. That’s EXACTLY what it is. We have a select few in our group of friends who don’t have time for making plans to see us, we just drop in on each other and it feels so good that we always have time for one another.

  10. By girlbert on May 17, 2011

    I need a Wyatt!  I do have a gem of a neighbor who scattered poppy seeds around the perimeter of our yard last year for a delightfully orangey, springtime surprise.  He sometimes comes by unannounced bearing extra oranges and avocados from his landscaping work.  Love that.

  11. By tara pollard pakosta on October 23, 2013

    Wyatt sounds awesome!





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