Frankie Heck: Okay, listen, Mike, I was thinking. You know how we always say that only losers and sad, pathetic people go out to dinner for Thanksgiving?
Mike Heck: So you’re saying we’re going out this year?
—The Middle, “Thanksgiving VI” (11/19/14)
Have you ever had a vegetable garden? They’re a lot of work at first, but if you plan carefully, a lot of the effort can be spread out over time and you end up having a much easier time of it in the end.
Once the garden is established that first season, the key is to plan ahead and start assessing what happened this past year: what went well? What was successful? What did you grow too much of, and what did you not grow enough of? Did you have all the tools you needed? For things that needed more than one person to complete, were you all coordinated, or were the lines of communication fuzzy? And how did this affect the final outcome?
And so you take this information, and you start planning for the next season. Too many green beans and barely enough potatoes. And perhaps you should have started some things sooner; better get a jump-start on ordering stuff for next season so it arrives in a timely fashion, rather than your going panic-shopping because you forgot. And so on.
Time passes and it’s time to start that garden again. You plant seeds and you water, and you fertilize, and you take care of stuff, and everything is great at first, until…
It’s happened to me, a couple of times. The first time was the worst. Many years ago (mid-1980s), I planted a garden that included, on a lark, pumpkins. The pumpkins did fantastically early in the season. Then suddenly, they began to die. The die-off started at the ends of the vines and worked its way inward. After a few days of this mystery, I thought, “Maybe if I just cut off the dead stuff, it’ll encourage new growth.” So I worked my way along some dead vine until I found the point where it was still healthy, and I cut the vine. As it turns out, pumpkin vines are hollow tubes, so in my hands I had one healthy tube, and one—holy cow, look at all the borers inside there!
It’s some insidious stuff, let me tell you. An insect gets into your garden and somehow you didn’t count on it, which doesn’t make sense. Everything is OUT THERE, and what you’re trying to do is bring it in, take some slice of the world in with you and hold it close, get close to your earthly roots, bring order to chaos. But the world doesn’t play that way. It doesn’t know what your rules are, nor does it care.
The insect wants what it wants, and it doesn’t care about anyone else, because it’s an insect. And it’s amazing how much damage one insect can do to an entire garden. It can take the whole thing out and before you know it, your harvest is gone, just like that. More often than not, by the time you discover you’ve got something like that, it’s far too late.
So instead of eating your freshly-grown food which you created with your own two hands, you find yourself out somewhere, spending much more money than you would have in the first place, eating someone else’s work instead of your own. Despite all your work, despite your planning, despite everything, you don’t plan on an insect coming in and destroying everything. Because, really, you can’t plan on something like that. An insect’s actions are short-sighted, without consideration for the ramifications down the line and the effect that it’s going to have on the gardener—and everyone else who depends on that gardener to provide them with food.
And that’s just kind of sad.