April 5, 2016

The Quilt Queen is having knee replacement surgery tomorrow morning. This is her second one, and she is actually looking forward to it. Today when I asked her what could I do to help, she said, “Take care of Orville.”

If you know Farmer Orville as well as I do you know that he’ll eat cold food out of the refrigerator, chomp down all the cookies in the house, watch Fox News until he is bleary-eyed, and maybe just maybe watch a movie in which emotion is evoked. Does emotion coming out of an old man’s weeping make a sound if there is no one there to see it?

Reba the farm dog has a new playmate, Ruby Puppy, also a herder dog, weighing in at a robust and squirmy three pounds. If you hold her in your hands, she pees on them like frogs are wont to do. Her belly is palm-sized and soft-heaved. Reba is intensely jealous, but the girls bunk together in a straw-filled kennel, and I suspect there is cuddling—when no one is watching.

Meanwhile, asparagus rises in clusters in the fifty-foot-long patch, and my pee smells funny. The blackberries have leaved out and are flowering, as are the pick-your-own strawberries. The tomato beds are furrowed and aerated, though they won’t be planted until a magic day in May. And there is a quarter acre patch of dirt, awaiting seeds. “Cantaloupe, watermelons, cucumbers, radishes, peppers, maybe carrots,” Orville told me. “You want some kale, Gene?”

I’m thinking of planting a lawn chair next to that patch and watching for signs of life, for the next eight weeks. But you know what they say about watched pots. I suspect watched plots are about the same.

Redbud trees are flowering. Genehouse has two flowering redbuds, a long swath of forsythia, irises, baby bunnies, tree frogs, two cardinal couples, some nuthatches, chickadees (one of which scolds me while I fill the thistle feeder), goldfinches, and purple and red finches. Crows are literally fighting for mates. Orville and I could see the males beaking one another in the air and posturing like teenage boys.

So the beds are made, the sheet of earth is washed and kissed and tucked in. Babies are in the oven, Quilt Queen will have a new knee.

The writing god William Faulkner introduced me to the word “fecund.” He used it in his novels a lot, and as a kid reading “The Sound and the Fury,” and “Light in August,” the word seemed “dirty” to me, the F-word from another brother. “Fecund.” But that is exactly the descriptive word which paints spring days—soil and leaf and plant and baby bird: the fecundity of nature.

“Let me Kodak you by baby’s breath, baby, by lilacs by lilies, love.” I wrote that line when I was a tender and callow fellow.

By dogwood, dandelions, daisies.

Until death do us part. Until my last plot is watched.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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