Like the farmhouse that came with a skunk in the dirt cellar. Martha’s father, who normally used his shotgun for blasting holes in the barn roof so he could get at the pigeons (no bird lover he), blew the poor skunk to kingdom come. In the middle of the night. In the aforementioned dirt cellar. Guess what happened.
Yeah, Martha and her sisters walked around for days reeking of the very exotic Eau de Pepe le Pew. The odor was everywhere: on her clothes, in her hair, between the pages of her schoolbooks. Even her lunch smelled worse than usual. It was mortifying to say the least, but there was an upside to the downside: all six boys at school instantly fell in love with her. The offspring of hog farmers, these lads had finally found the woman of their dreams: a girl who smelled just as putrid as they did.
* * *
After thirty years of living in big cities, then, I thought my beloved had long ago overcome her farm girl "roots." But when she started digging holes all over the yard like a crazed Golden Gopher, I realized
You can take the dirt out of the girl,
but you can't take the girl out of the dirt.
It’s all because we have a house with a yard, a few hundred square feet of rocks and scraggly desert plants that just won’t die—unless you’re a farmer, in which case you use a mule or a backhoe to dig them up. Or, if you’re like Martha’s dad, you just shoot ‘em with a shotgun in the middle of the night.
In the old days, we used to enjoy doing big-city things like going out to dinner, to a concert, or taking our lives in our hands on the freeways. Sundays used to be a day for resting, lollygagging and, uh, fooling around. But Martha’s innate passion for trans- forming her tiny piece of the desert in to a vast prairie changed all that.
A typical Sunday morning nowadays goes something like this as she leafs through the advertising supplements in the newspaper:
“Holy shit! Home Depot has mulch on sale, the good kind with the cow flop in it, and the shovel I really really really want is half price!” (You can always tell when she’s excited because she exclaims in bold italics.)
During the week, Martha is a serious, well-dressed, professional businesswoman. Come Saturday, however, she looks like Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoon. Only worse. Unlike Pigpen, there is a certain . . . odor . . . that accompanies dirt and hard labor. Something along the lines of . . . Eau de Pepe le Pew.
* * *
Today, August 23, 2010 my Farm Girl and I are celebrating our
36th wedding anniversary
(I can do flower gardens too!)