Fleeing South

Snow, snow, snow.  So unbearably tired of the white stuff that when I had a meeting cancellation Thursday afternoon, I thought, I know of a place where the ground is thawed. A place where fifteen row-feet of parsnips are waiting to be dug.  A place where I can work online for a couple of days and look out on brown and green instead of endless white.

So I turned tail and ran south, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Broke through the snow line around Brookings–and began to see more bare ground than snow-fields.  In Vermillion, not a trace of the white stuff.  That last eight-inch snowstorm we got up north was all rain down here.

Stopped in Tea, SD at Tessman’s Greenhouse Supply–they are in nice new digs, but I miss Boris, who retired at the end of last season.  He was always curious to know what was going on in the organic sector, and what new products were gaining in popularity.  He would sometimes find me deals on small things–leftovers taking up space in the warehouse in amounts that larger growers wouldn’t be interested in.

Down in Vermillion, I donned my muck boots for a walk in the gardens–not much coming up but the stinging nettles (a little too small to harvest yet) and green onions.  There’s standing water in a couple of areas, and I caught myself thinking about building some contours and drainage areas before I remembered it’s tough to have a garden three hours from where you live.

Woke up Friday morning to an inch-thick blanket of white and pronounced myself cursed.  But it all melted through the course of the day. It was late Friday afternoon before I got to digging out the parsnips and also a bucket of perennial green onion clumps to plant and share in Big Stone County.

The round barn continues sagging toward collapse, there’s a huge jumbled mess of tools and pots scattered everywhere, and it smells like something died.  Not pretty.  Since I was already filthy from playing harvesting in the mud, I did some organizing and salvaging of flats and greenhouse domes and making somewhat neater piles of supplies I’ll have to fetch on another trip.

Meanwhile, Vega found her own prize–a recently roadkilled full-sized cottontail.  She triumphantly trotted it down the road to the front yard–her favorite place to dismantle dead things.  I am probably going to need to worm her when we get back.  The coyotes will eventually locate her leftovers.

Now, on Saturday morning, I’ve managed to get all the harvested parsnips reasonably clean–a feat when the well’s shut down for the winter: I soaked them in cold water overnight, then dumped the roots in a sludgy pile by the front steps and repeatedly filled buckets of more water from the sink to splash off the bulk of the mud.

Once they were somewhat clean, I relayed batches into the house for further spraying and trimming before filling three large grocery bags with the finished product.  Then the sinks, counters, and the entire kitchen floor from sink to front door needed sweeping and scrubbing down.

It’s cleaner than when I came, at least, and a lot of work for some fresh produce.  Still, if there’s any time of year when I’ll do an unreasonable amount of work for something fresh from the gardens, it’s right now.

With my grubby clothes still on, I’d thought maybe I’d hang around a bit longer today–maybe do some more organizing in the barn and stow a few more things in the Subaru.  But then it occurred to me that I hadn’t even packed my bag of clothes and the computer, and I was squeezing even to get in the couple of tools and pile of flats I had already.

Not to mention that everything I load at the beginning of the journey has to be unloaded at the end.  It’d be nice to have some daylight for that part of the adventure.

The dog will have to ride in the co-pilot position–which isn’t really a problem for her.  On our way down, she’d hung her head so pitifully over the back seats that I put down half of the split seat to give her more room back there.

She used that platform to come forward and cozy herself into the backseat I hadn’t laid down.  So much for trading in the S-10.  She’d have come all the way forward if I hadn’t blocked her from doing so.

So, once my tea is sufficiently steeped and honeyed and the last couple of items are stowed, I’ll head back up the road to the frozen north.  But hey, it’s snowing and grey down here today, and I hear the sun is shining on my Big Stone home.

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