By Paul Myers
– Piece originally published in The Gibsons Farm Collective Newsletter –
Can’t quite say why, but both of our vehicles have dashboard clocks that run ever so slightly slow. About once every two weeks I reset them both. Push, hold until it flashes, push, push, push. “Digital” they may be, but not so very unlike the days when, if your clock was off, you opened the front, and moved the clock hands manually to the proper time. That is to say, then and now, take the quick fix. As long as we do not get inside that clock, it won’t change. It won’t fix it itself. Instead, we change, by developing patterns that adjust for the deficiency. By learning to live with it.
This is my somewhat offbeat introduction to say that I am done growing potatoes the way I have always grown them. Years ago, when we first started planting spuds, we encountered problems: wire worms, marginal yields, and so forth. We tinkered. Tried a few different varieties. Tried planting later, then earlier. Tried watering more, then less. Tried one location, then another. But the pattern of deficiency held, and instead of getting into the inside of the problem to create the change that would last, we changed. Dawn surrendered, but only because she is less the potato addict than I am. I soldiered on alone, but began telling myself that potatoes simply “do not grow well here”. Moving the clock hands, as it were. Sure enough, this year’s harvest of my beloved Seiglindes look not much different from past years.
Meantime, farmer Stephanie recently showed me her potatoes, grown right here at Brookbank, virtually right next to mine. Yep, you guessed it: they are totally gorgeous. WTF?
So it’s time to step back. To observe with new eyes, then step in, but deeper. Get past the face of things, into the inner workings. Ask myself a different set of questions. Stop adjusting myself for the deficiency, content with the half-happiness of merely moving hands. Ask others for counsel. Listen to the land. Get to the core. I just happen to love potatoes, and life, that much.
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