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Friday, May 27, 2011

Gardener Gus?

A Gardener's Fable

Once upon a time, a city puppy-raiser moved to the north country with her husband and dog, and "scary-smart" Future Leader Dog (FLD) puppy.

Their house-on-a-hill was surrounded by gardens planted by the previous owners, but the puppy-raiser paid no attention (at first).  It was winter, the yard mounded with snow.

When spring puddled in, the puppy-raiser started to notice things poking their way out of the earth.  She was not a gardener, oh no, but found an interest in what might emerge.  Trips to the city drew her away for days at a time, so the grounds appeared to her as time-lapse photography.  One return home revealed crocus blooming sunny-bright by the porch-step; another return red tulips tempted ruby-throated hummingbirds; another brought the aromatic bliss of lilacs.

On an almost-level spot in the backyard, a neglected 30' x 50' vegetable plot began to sprout hard onions, turnip greens, irises, asparagus...and weeds.  The tenacity of this vegetation attracted the puppy-raiser.

One sunny morning, the puppy-raiser decided to hoe the weed-festered garden, even though she had no prior experience.  She took her FLD puppy out with her, foregoing their usual walk.

Now this puppy-raiser knew that the "scary-smart" puppy watched her and frequently tried to duplicate whatever it was that she was doing.  For instance, earlier in the spring while she cleared a new trail in her woods, the FLD puppy followed along, observing her cutting and tossing aside ill-placed seedlings.  Very soon the FLD puppy grabbed hold of a sapling, anchored his four paws in the leaf-covered floor of the forest, and yanked with all his Labrador might.  He tugged and jerked and worked at that sapling until it finally gave way, roots and all.  With the tree hanging out of his mouth, the FLD puppy looked up at the puppy-raiser as if to say, "See, I can help!"

The puppy-raiser knew this about the FLD puppy, but it was such a wonderful morning, and she really wanted the company of the silly black Lab.


The puppy-raiser, with her scary-smart FLD puppy, went out to the weedy garden to play and proceeded to hoe.  She chopped at the weeds around the asparagus, which had grown so quickly it was already ferning (a term she learned by Googling "growing asparagus").

The FLD puppy studied the puppy-raiser with her new-fangled tool and decided to help, but instead of pulling out weeds he nabbed the nearest stalk of asparagus and ripped it apart.

The asparagus stalk ravaged by FLD Gus.

"Oh no!" exclaimed the puppy-raiser, realizing her mistake.  She tied the FLD puppy to the woodshed next to a gnarly old oak, safely out of reach, and returned to her hoeing.

She hoed and hoed.  Up one side of the asparagus row and down the other.

Freshly hoed garden row, turnip greens and asparagus.

The puppy-raiser paused, swabbed her forehead with her sleeve, and looked up at the FLD puppy tied to the woodshed.  He sat in the shade of the tree looking back at her.  Abruptly, he leapt up and proceeded to dig furiously; dirt and rocks and sand spewed between his hind legs against the craggy bark of the old oak tree.

"No!" yelled the puppy-raiser.  The FLD puppy glanced up from his digging, his tongue draped to the side.  His expression, to the puppy-raiser, seemed to mean, "Well, if you don't want me yanking things out, I can DIG!"

Hoeing was done (at least for now).  The puppy-raiser took the FLD puppy for a walk in the woods instead. 

MORAL OF THE STORY:  Never garden with a scary-smart puppy around.

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