Monday, June 09, 2008

Chet Baker, Bean Planter

My first planting of lima beans did not take. I'd planted them too early, and out of 90 beans, only five became viable plants. I wasn't counting on weeks of nights in the thirties and forties, and the beans weren't happy about it, either. My string beans, planted at the same time, germinated lustily. I look at the two seeds, one large, white and flat, the other small, white and oblong, and wonder at the differing cold tolerance encoded, along with all the other information, within that inscrutable seed coat.

There was nothing for it but to soak another batch of 90 limas until they swelled to three times their size, and try again.

Chet Baker's normal attitude in the garden while I work is that of Wilbur the Pig, snuggled in a bed of shiny, sweet-smelling straw. Note his glorious brindleation. He is a chunk of caramel fudge.

But he sat up and watched dreamily as I dug out the furrows and laid the soaked (and rather corny-smelling) lima seeds within. Because I was low on seed and wanted to make sure they were spaced properly, I didn't cover them as I went. I laid out three rows and began covering the first.

And looked up to see Chet Baker moving up the second row, methodically covering each seed with soil and straw.

I knew as I 'd walked out the door to plant with Chet that it was a mistake to leave my camera inside. I actually did one of those little half-turns--should I go get it?--no, it might get dirty when I'm digging--and kept walking. But I know that something interesting always happens when I leave the camera inside. Heck, something interesting happens all the time. I should just sleep with the darn thing around my neck.

I lit out for the house, a curious Baker close on my heels, switched lenses (the wrong lens is always on it), and ran back out to the garden. Hunkered down and readied myself for the magic.

Chet Baker. You with the dirty nose.

Do you think you might plant some more lima beans for me?

The moment has passed. I no longer feel the urge to plant beans. My nose is full of dirt, as you noticed.

Please, Chet. Please plant some more beans for Mether.

More of the same from Chet. He pricked his ears at a distant swallowtail, looked over his shoulder, hummed a little dog tune, and drummed his little dog fingers.

I sighed, put the camera down, and began covering the seeds myself.

Chet sighed, walked over, and resumed planting the row he'd been working on.

I will say that Mr. Baker is not a particularly thorough bean planter, seeming to consider soil and dry, loose straw to be equally good bean growing media. When he was finished I had to redo his row.
But he made me laugh, and that is something.
And a good snorgle on a sun-warmed puppeh will ease any heart.

I have just returned from North Dakota this evening, and promptly retrieved Chet Baker from luxurious and loving accommodations with dear friends who live deep in the West Virginia woods. They had left two phone messages on our home and cell: "If you were planning to pick Chet up tonight, it's perfectly all right for him to stay another night or two. We aren't anxious to see him go. In fact, we'll miss him very much. He's been an absolute joy."

That he is. Knowing he may never see the inside of a kennel cage again fills us all with absolute joy. I figured, after all the mining and whining, you were about as desperate for a Bacon fix as I was.

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