When I was 11, Carl Henry went out to the backyard with a kerchief in his pocket ready for the sweat, and dug a six foot by six foot patch of dirt. I looked at it from the safety of the upstairs bathroom window and prayed I wouldn’t be enlisted.
Carl Henry brought the enthusiasm, stamina, research, work ethic and rule book for seceding from the Union and starting a small country to each and every task. When I crossed through the backyard to babysit Becky Lubin I would occasionally let my eyeballs wag over to monitor the progress, but never for long. I wanted no part in it, I wanted no tweak of curiosity to be stirred, no wonder at the throb of green leaning against its corset of chicken wire. I was a believer in convenience and in grocery stores. I was a lover of the clothes dryer and electric toothbrushes and brand new cars that got from one place to another as long as you filled up the gas tank that I knew personally as well as I knew Cher.
Tiny heads of tender lettuce and green peas you could pop from the pod right into your mouth made it to our table. I said nothing and marveled on the inside that the sweet flavor of Spring could be captured in a forkful of salad.
Last year I started digging up my back yard at the insistence of my friend Mary and I was humbled by how hard it was to get a potato to grow anything more than a grassy looking weed, talked to baby beet leaves and swooned on the concrete path at the taste of sun warmed, red tomatoes. Eating what I was growing gave me goosebumps.
It will be a long time or never before I grow more than a fraction of what I consume and I am ever more thankful for the farmers who take the job on full tilt, tilling the soil seriously and full time in a way that will sustain both us and the land. And for the ones who get up before the sun to tend to cows who are fed grass and hay the way they were meant to be and for the ones who are letting chickens out of their coops to stretch their legs and giving pigs enough room to stand up and have a wander.
All these years later after Carl Henry who is long since gone and buried, I see the point.

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