boy with a coin

yesterday with student group Sustain Mizzou, i helped harvest sweet potatoes. we went out to sunny acres, a huge farm with rows of sweet potatoes, cabbage, peppers, tons of tomatoes, and more. the food we harvested was donated to the missouri food bank, so it's pretty cool. farmer bob (i'm not kidding) showed us what to do, to pull back the plastic, cut the vines, pull up the irrigation cord, and use the potato fork to unearth the precious tubers.
there were seven of us, one of us whose name was garrett. a farm boy. he was wearing jeans and boots (worn in), a plaid farmer's shirt, a green hat. he had strong, wide hands. a wide open face. he was very attractive, and reminded me of my father in a deep sense. i stayed close to him when he dug up potatoes, and i grabbed them and rubbed the soil off, put them into boxes. we talked about gardening - his family has a big garden with blackberries, tomatoes, peppers, carrots. he says that carrots are hard to grow, which made me feel better at my lousy attempt this summer to grow carrots in a pot that gave all its nutrients to the pepper plant instead. unfaithfully, i held back the fact that i was married, until asked a question by another student that i couldn't honestly answer without mentioning my husband. then i felt that i had betrayed the guy! oh, silly emotions. the drama of the day.
it was raw and real, unearthing potatoes and talking about out west. he was impressed that i was from wyoming, and we talked about what grows out there and what grows in south carolina, too. all my gardening experience was from my dad who planted huge gardens every year of our precious years together. i remember him standing outside at the edge of the garden while the sun made its way through the mountains, and he'd set the sprinklers and watch them run. he'd have one hand on his hip, surveying the garden. i'd hide behind his leg when the water threatened to come too close to us. he'd adjust his hat and squint out at the horizon. he'd move a sprinkler here or there, then we'd head inside for dinner.
meeting this guy yesterday was weird. i felt sexually attracted but also historically interested in this young farmer boy.
almost everything about him reminded me of my dad. the way he handled the sweet potatoes - tossing them to me to let me rub the soil off. he looked out at the sun, adjusting his hat. i imagined a life where scott was a farmer - if he'd wear a hat like that, lifting and resettling it as he measured the sun's trek through the evening.

besides all the silly emotional drama of my memories and of strangers, yesterday at the farm did something more for me. it reminded me of my raising - growing food, working with the plants. i saw three friendly snakes. i felt so good out there, brisk air and the calls of crickets and katydids chorusing in the dusk. i wore a hole through the right knee of my jeans, leaning there in the ground for a couple of hours. i left with my hands caked in soil. i smelled them, breathing in what i knew to be true and right. i recommitted myself to the west. big sky, endless mountains. open land, rich soil. i have to get back to the west.

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