My Garden

“Let’s plant a garden,” my wife said shortly after we moved to Almost Iowa.

“Sure,” I told her, “but on one condition: NO BEETS!

I hate beets and in no way was I going to break a quarter acre of prairie sod, dig up boulders the size of Volkswagens and rotor-till through harder-than-concrete peat to grow something as disgusting and utterly worthless as a beet.

And I knew – since she was still employed and I was retired, all the mulching, weeding, watering and thinning would fall to me, thus I had the power.

“Then no peppers,” she countered.

I love peppers just as much as she despises them.  I had dreams of endless rows of red, green and yellow bell peppers marching toward the horizon across my garden – but if it meant no beets, I could live without them.

But that is how relationships work.

At its best, marriage invites self-sacrifice. We demonstrate our love by giving up what we love to please those who we love.

At its worst, marriage invites retribution. We force those who we love to sacrifice what they love because that is what they did to us.

But those are the extremes…

On most days, marriage simply invites subterfuge. We sneak what we love past those who we love.

I hid my peppers among the cherry tomatoes and she scattered her beets among the potatoes. Having each gotten our way, we settled back into pastoral bliss…

Until the rabbits showed up.

People around here boast about rabbits the same way Texans brag about wild boars and Alaskans bluster about bears. They say our rabbits may not be the world’s largest but they are without a doubt the world’s most loathsome of creature, so taking no chances, I studded the parameter of the garden with sturdy wooden posts and stretched a thick woven wire fence between them.

It didn’t even slow the bunnies down.

They buzzed through in a single night and sheared off anything that even dared flash a sprig of green.  Upon their exit, they left only a tangle of wire to remind me of what had been a section of fence.

Fortunately the previous owner, intending to build a dog run, had left several rolls of chain link fencing in the shed. I wrapped them around the garden as extra armor.

They effortlessly buzzed through that too.

But the odd thing is, everyone in Almost Iowa has a garden.  I couldn’t understand it, so while visiting a neighbor, I broached the topic of rabbits.

“How do you control them?” I asked

The question embarrassed him. He looked to his wife to see if it was alright to answer before admitting, “We only plant the things they don’t like.”

“I was thinking more in terms of driving them away,” I said.

The statement stunned him. “Have you ever actually seen a local rabbit?” he asked.

“Not really.”

He whistled and two massive rottweilers emerged from the barn. “Flush up a rabbit,” he commanded.

The dogs bounded off.  They kicked up a trail of dirt across a freshly plowed field then vanished into a thicket. A few minutes later,  a rabbit and the two dogs came thundering back across the field. Not unusual for dogs and rabbits – but in this instance, the panic stricken dogs were doing everything they could to stay ahead of the rabbit.

Resigned to let nature take its course, I resolved to cultivate only what the rabbits refused to eat.

And of course, it had to be BEETS.

Author: Almost Iowa

www.almostiowa.com

46 thoughts on “My Garden”

  1. I also don’t like beets (and I’ll eat about anything). They taste like “dirt” – the only way to describe them Ha ha.
    My dad’s garden is like a maximum security prison with chain link and razor wire, sirens and flashing lights. And the deer still get in there. Great post!

  2. hehehehe Greg! Nothing I can say will beet this tragic tale of terrifying rabbit tails (see what I did there, pretty sure I nailed at least 2 writerish things in that one sentence). Your hilarious, in an (almost) sad kind of way that I completely relate to.

    1. Nice puns, Gabe. I usually avoid them, not because I don’t enjoy puns but every time I am tempted to write one, the image of Sister Alice Gertrude’s yardstick looms out of the literary fog. [shudder]

  3. Ha,ha. Those must be some rabbits. My husband tells me we have a little gray rabbit visiting out backyard since one of our gates is broken. Doesn’t sound anything like one of yours. The aphids are pretty fierce though. 🙂

      1. LOL. I did spray one of my rose bushes with this organic soap spray. I hope that does not set the aphids off. They might consider it an act of war. I will be on the look out when I go out front again, just in case. 🙂

  4. I swear I don’t know how you manage to pack so much into your short stories, but you always do. (Maybe someday, college students will be studying your work in their Intro English class, because you often have as many layers as Faulkner. But yours are a lot more fun to read!)
    Your beet/pepper stories remind me of my husband and his potato chips, which I asked him, very nicely, not to bring into the house anymore. So of course he stashes them behind the paper plates in our basement cabinets. Which is right next to the refrigerator where I hide the ice cream he doesn’t want me to bring home.)
    As for the bunnies…maybe the beets will stunt their growth?

    1. I take no credit for my essays, they are merely truth revealed through a whole lot of BS.

      As for stashing snacks, a spouse has got to do what a spouse has got to do – but isn’t it then the little things that we hide away that lend us character?

  5. There you go…your signature surprise ending. I laughed out loud. Great story incredibly well written. Thanks for starting my morning with laughter.

    P.S. I don’t like beets either. But then I didn’t like Brussel sprouts either until they became the “in” vegetable and I learned how good they taste when roasted. But I still hate the smell and the husband especially hates the smell…

    1. I didn’t like Brussel sprouts either until they became the “in” vegetable

      It is why I distrust fashion.

      I have this on best authority….

      Several years ago, during a lunch in a trendy Brooklyn cafe, three mean-girl designers were chortling over how they could torture the world.

      “Hey, let’s make guys carry purses!”, one said.

      Her best frenemy picked up on the idea, “How about encouraging beautifully plump girls to look ridiculous in tight pants?”

      “Not nasty enough,” the third mean girl said, “Let’s push Brussel sprouts.”

  6. I totally agree. Beets are disgusting. My problem isn’t rabbits, but chickens, and chickens will dig up anything even if they don’t want to eat it. Fortunately they’re easier to keep out… I’m hoping.

    1. I once considered chickens. A neighbor informed me that his renters moved out and abandoned their chickens and that I could help myself…but when I drove up there, the chickens attacked my truck. It took a week to pound out the dents.

      1. Haha. You might want to check out what’s in the water in your area. You could probably make a fortune selling it to professional boxers.

    1. The dogs around here live in terror of the bunnies, except for Scooter. I don’t know how he does it but he has made a friend of just about every critter around, even the snapping turtles.

  7. I love your stories… and this one was high near the top. When you can get someone to laugh out loud while peering at their computer screen — well, you’ve got it. The vision of a couple of rottweilers’ panic stricken faces as they attempted the great escape had me in stitches. You remind me of our beloved Stuart McLean, the Canadian humourist… writer and orator, who we lost this year at just 68 years of age. He was a treasure but you’re filling the gap. Thanks for your stories 🙂

    1. Beet brownies? Sounds like some hippies added the wrong ingredient. [narf] I will admit that when I was down-under, I unsuspectingly bit into a hamburger and discovered to my horror that the Aussies put “beet root” on perfectly good hamburgers.

    1. The idea occurred to me too, so I passed it by the local wags down at the Prairie Cafe. They shook their heads no and reminded me that this would constitute biological warfare against the bunnies and that would be sure to piss them off. Not something one wants to do.

  8. So. Many. Giggles.

    Envisioning the dogs running tails between their legs with a snarling bunny hot on their heels? I’m gonna be carrying that image in my head for a while…

    And it doesn’t have to be a full-blown marriage – every relationship worth its salt contains more than a bit of subterfu….er…compromise.

    1. The image of a bunny chasing a rottweiler is striking indeed – but you ought to see them chasing eighteen wheelers out on I-90. You ought to see them catch one too.

  9. Maybe you should set out little bowls of onion and garlic in olive oil. The rabbits might eat the beets in a salad. Otherwise, I guess they’re good for you. Great post.

  10. This made me laugh so much. My wife and I are reading Watership Down to the kids. Had to think about the one line in the book that says, basically, that nothing on earth will keep a rabbit out of a garden.

    1. Shhhhhhh, don’t let my wife hear you saying that. She know subterfuge is an important element of our relationship – but doesn’t like to be reminded that I do it too.

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