I was planning to write a short pastoral piece today about walking in Uncle Bob’s garden at twilight. The piece would have been perfect for “Tiny Steps Gardening Day.” It would begin as I parked my Jeep behind the barn after a long Moxie Committee meeting. I would walk around the garden as the day was slowly slipping into the western sky, observing all the beautiful things appearing in Uncle Bob’s neat garden rows. Beans, cucumbers, and corn popped through the soil and my pea trellis was full of little white flowers. In this pastoral vision, a cool breeze stirs my tomato plants and I calmly make a gentle “citizen’s arrest” of a woman walking with an unleashed dog. It might go something like this:
“There’s a leash law in Lisbon, you know.”
(I checked the code; it’s in Section 6-31.
“No dog under the control or care of any person shall be permitted to leave the property of that person unless the dog is on a leash of suitable strength not more than six feet in length.”)
Then, after I make my citizen’s arrest, I walk through the little space between the barn and the house and there’s Uncle Bob, sitting on the porch. Just like I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember, I sit on the porch with Uncle Bob and watch the cars go by.
I was going to call the blog piece “Not Pleasantville.”
While I was sitting on the porch with Uncle Bob, I checked my phone for messages and e-mail. Sure enough, the distraction I needed to keep me from writing about not-Pleasantville was waiting. One of my Junior League friends had sent me an e-mail which ended something like this:
“By the way, I was getting caught up on your blog this weekend and I have to ask…who is Reggie Black?”
Like that long-legged loose shaggy dog running up to me in the garden, her question disturbed the peace of the porch. It was only a matter of time before someone asked; I should have been prepared.
Since it’s “Tiny Steps Gardening Day,” I’m going to keep it simple. Reggie Black is a gardener and friend I’ve known since 1972. Although he asks Aunt Tomato a lot of questions, he’s a thoughtful student of the craft and he doesn’t need much help. He started out in England, growing herbs in pots. Now he’s puttering around his stateside house somewhere in Zone 9, experimenting with sweet potatoes, vines, and hugelkultur. He’s become the master of lattice as a gardening support device.
He might be the Jacques Pépin of gardening. He’s not a pretender; if a musical comparison is needed, he could be the Richard Thompson of gardening. He might quibble with me about this.
Quibble rhymes with kibble and Reggie’s been conducting an experiment with dog kibble. He planted one of his potted tomato plants in a mixture of kibble, compost, and soil and he’s giving old Aunt Tomato a run for her money.
Then again, Reggie would be the first one to tell me that I don’t have much peace in my life so what does it matter?
The time for telling Reggie Black stories is ending for today and I’ll put a leash on this piece. It’s a fun story for another day, though, and since I have no need to put Reggie on a leash, I’m sure he’s going to end up in one or two more stories from the garden.
Thanks, Reggie, for disturbing my peace.