A story about veggies, fatigue and wonderment
October 02, 2010

The cat has burrs on his butt. Grabbing his haunches, he curls round himself. Working to remove the burrs, he bites down through his fur. The burrs are deeply embedded. He worries one to the surface and throws back his head trying to chew and spit it out. Fur and burrs fill his mouth like taffy.

We're both paying for doing farm-life no-nos. I have worked in the garden harvesting and weeding well past my too-tired time. The cat joined me and explored while I worked. He walked through tall weeds where "sticktights" wait for a host carrier. Sticky little buggers, they attach and travel with ease.

We both make it to the shade of the old oak tree in the back yard. Sitting in the lawn chair, I earlier hosed the dust off my produce. I'm still sitting here under the guise of waiting for the water to dry off the vegetables before carrying them inside.

Heavy with exhaustion, my body aches throughout. My headband is wet with sweat and only my eyes are up to moving. Looking round my world, I spot a Northern Oriole at the bird feeder. When the time was right, we put out major oriole treats of orange nectar and grape jelly--what birder found and passed along what only this bird and no other likes.

Black ants, drawn to the sweetness above, follow one behind the other up the pole of the feeder and into the plastic container lid. I stare as the bird pecks at blue-goo and slurps orange nectar. Beautiful bird! The cat chomps on and spits out clumps of fur and burrs. Suddenly, the oriole flies out of sight. I'm left staring where it was and at the scenery behind it. My all-over pain is easing; sweat feels cooler. It has to dry before I can remove my clothes. Another excuse for my immobility.

I rest and stare through my exhaustion. I sip my water and repair my over-heated, tired self. Before I know it, three or so hours have passed in the garden. Suddenly, I am aware I have hit an energy wall. I get myself to where I now sit, the cat following me. I need energy to carry my basket of fresh-picked tomatoes, bell peppers of green, red and yellow and shiny green and red hot chiles, green beans, broccoli and new potatoes the rest of the way to the house.

Flower heads turn their faces to the sun looking up above the weeds. Glued to my spot, my gaze shifts and fixes on something shadowy high in a tree. I reach beneath my seat. My hand brushes the fur of the cat. He's sitting in my shade worrying out more stickers. I grasp my binoculars. Steadying them before my eyes, I focus on the shadow. It looked like something. As often happens, the something I saw from a distance was nothing now that I see it close-up. Just leaves.

From under my chair come snores from the cat. With whiskers and toes twitching, he runs through a dream. He worked hard to remove burrs but, as I brush my hand across his back, I feel them still there. I'll help with the brush later. When rested, I'll move. My rest moment has stretched to longer as I survey my world. On the face of a huge yellow marigold, a Mourning Cloak Butterfly opens and closes its wings going from spectacular coloring when opened to drab when closed.

Musings by May Belle Osborne
with photos by Mark Adams

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