So we might as well just pay for them.

Every once in a while, you can sort of figure out how my wife was raised. Or maybe the more appropriate way to look at it is “where” she was raised. Sometimes, the no-nonsense, just get the job done attitude percolates to her surface, even if she deep down inside thinks a more measured, pragmatic approach is the way to go. This has from time to time led to clashes between the two of us, especially when it’s time to assemble something and a significant amount of step-by-step instructions are involved.

    I don’t even know if we were married yet the first time I realized that my wife likes to “just wing it” from time to time. We were at the lake and we’d bought a bunch of wood and had some plastic barrels to build a diving raft to place in the water near the dock front of the cabin. My dad was late in arriving and he had most of the proper tools, but my wife, she couldn’t stand to just stare at that pile of wood and do nothing. So she, shall we say…improvised. She found an old, rusty hatchet, the back of which would serve rather nicely as a makeshift hammer. Then she found an old spatula in the kitchen…yes, a spatula was going to perform a valuable role in the process of assembling the raft. The spatula handle was around an inch in diameter, and she figured it would make for a handy spacer between the 2x6 boards that would make up the raft’s platform.

    If we weren’t married, we almost broke up that day. And if we were married, we almost got a divorce. When my dad showed up he and I disassembled, to my wife’s chagrin, what she’d assembled, and started from scratch.

    That raft served its purpose for a few years, but it sure had a way of giving slivers. And those barrels? They never seemed to be strapped on entirely right, so you never knew if you were going to come out one day and the raft would just be gone…or at the bottom of the lake. The current raft our family enjoys at the lake consists of one huge piece of molded Fiberglass…no assembly required.

    My wife also has these blunt, simple little sayings that she’ll utter once in a while, and even if you don’t know her that well you might accurately guess that she learned the value of hard work by growing up on a dairy farm. She uddered one saying earlier this spring – Uddered...get it? – when we finally caved in and decided to buy into Jess Luckow’s community supported agriculture (CSA) garden, known as Whitetail Gardens. We split half a share with another family, and as a result, once the garden starts producing vegetables and fruit sometime in June, we’ll get a decent amount of tasty produce into the fall.

    If you know our house and yard at all, this turn of events must seem a bit strange, considering that we have a garden in the corner of the backyard, complete with a proper picket fence.
    But gardening for us has been an annual struggle, despite my wife’s worthy attempts, at least early each growing season, to make sure that THIS IS THE YEAR we stick with it and reap many delicious, healthy rewards once the harvest season commences.

    She tills up the soil, and isn’t it just black and beautiful? Then we/she plants what we/she has decided to plant. Then we/she strings some chicken wire to keep the rabbits out, and then we/she puts all the cages in place around the tomato plants.

    A couple weeks later, she/we weeds the garden. Maybe a couple weeks after that, she/we pulls up a few more weeds, and the prickly thistle leaves her/our fingers slightly raw. Gardening gloves are for the weak, after all.

    It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but by the end of the second weeding session, the problem is that it’s probably not even July yet. Between golfing, going to the lake, work, parenting and just trying to keep our big yard and house clean, the garden every summer starts to slide down the priority scale. After a few weeks, when the raspberries are the only edible items that the naked eye can observe among the towering varieties of weeds, we vow that next summer, we’re going to put more effort into the garden.

    Soon, though, we figure, the raspberries will take over the whole space, and maybe we should just let nature take its course. After all, who doesn’t like raspberries for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Thus, our call to Luckow, and our investment in her garden.

    “We got out of it what we put into it,” my wife, the dairy farmer’s daughter, said the other day of our previous efforts to cultivate a successful backyard garden each year.

    To which I, the bigger city-raised boy who only got up at the crack of dawn to golf, not milk a herd, replied, “True dat.”