Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Spring (the season) (07/23/09)
TITLE: The Strawberry Scuffle
By Jeanne E Webster
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Ezekiel 34:26b “…there shall be showers of blessings.” KJV
Each spring my husband and I become energized when planning our vegetable garden. We put in the usual hodgepodge of purple beans, zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, and green peppers. However, this year was to be different. We decided we’d try our hand at planting blueberries and strawberries.
Before placing most of the veggies, we set in four blueberry bushes and 40 strawberry plants. The blueberries were no problem: dig the hole, sprinkle the acid mixture and fertilizer, stir, and stick the bush in up to its former growth line, tamp the soil down, water, and voila! You have blueberry bushes!
Since this was our first adventure with strawberries, we read tons of literature on the do’s and don’t’s. Acid soil is a must, good drainage, embed each plant at the top of the root ball, allow each plant to send out only four runners, pinch off the first year’s blossoms, fertilize well and separate each row with plenty of straw. My husband tilled the soil, turning in the fertilizer and plenty of peat moss, leaving the actual planting to me.
Adopting the “hands and knees” position, I painstakingly scooted along, setting the plants into their proper spaces. As a grand finale, I rose to an upright stance and whimsically tossed handfuls of straw between each row to discourage weeds from competing with the berries for nutrients. Gazing on the results, I could almost taste those bedazzling red jewels! The rows were straight, spacing perfect, and, “Look out, neighbors; we’ve got strawberries!”
Or so we thought. Showers are perpetually linked with springtime. How about gully washers, downpours, torrents, and deluges? Raindrops began falling on our heads and the strawberry plants the day after planting. The heavens opened up and forgot to turn off the faucet. The weather forecast for the entire week was…rain.
During the midst of the flooding, the temperature dropped drastically and a frost was predicted. Determined to save our plants, which were now impersonating water lilies, we gathered some old sheets to cover them. I’ve never dallied in a rice paddy before, but I know what it must feel like! I set one foot into the garden to lay out the sheets and sunk in up to my arthritic ankles. Backing out was a real necessity. What to do?!
We hauled several boards out of the barn and laid them down between the rows. I attempted an amateurish “high-wood” act across them, laying down the sheets as I tiptoed across. This plan worked fine until I reached the farthest point away from solid ground. My left foot slid off the board into the boot-sucking goop, which left me doing a balancing act on my right foot. Try as I might, the muck would not release my left foot!
Yes, the inevitable happened…I fell…bottom first…into the cold, wet mire, and, try as I might, could not get up. Feeling like a fool, I wondered how many neighbors were rolling over with laughter at the comical sight. Then it occurred to me. This IS funny!
My husband scampered to the barn with many a muted “tee hee” and returned with a long-handled pitchfork. It was the longest reacher to be found. Smiling graciously, he stretched out and handed it to me. I grabbed on and pulled myself to a stand. However, my left foot was still in the grips of the sludge.
I wriggled as carefully as I could to free it, but by this time the board was as slick as a goose’s left-behinds. The pitchfork had been withdrawn and my right leg decided it wasn’t up to any more rescue attempts.
Yep! I fell once more…FORWARD…onto my hands and knees! Laughter erupted again! I gave up trying to look graceful and crawled out of the garden onto the green grass. Sometimes pride has to give way to necessity.
The rest of the story? I did manage to cover most of the strawberry plants, miraculously. We look forward to eating our home-grown strawberries next spring and summer, and hopefully we won’t need to purchase a pair of waders to pick them. Just in case…anyone have a used pair for sale real cheap?
Dear Lord, thank you for the showers of blessings. It made me feel like a kid again!
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