LOCAL VIEW –Peas and Patriots–

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(photo credit: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=6688362#b )

Yesterday, with the help of my eldest daughter, we got 75 feet of edible podded peas planted. (I don’t bother with the ordinary peas any more; too long a run for too short a slide.) With God’s grace we should be getting crunchy pea pods to munch around June 15. They are incredibly popular with the kids at the Childcare, often to the amazement of parents who can’t get the same children to eat vegetables at home.

Actually it is a double row, (and therefore 150 feet,) with the two rows around a foot apart and a four-foot-high fence running between them, for them to climb on. Last year they grew two feet above the top of the fence, and formed a pretty hedge with snowy white blooms, and then began producing more pea pods than we knew what to do with. I became a pea pod philanthropist, and resorted to freezing them in a way I read about on the web where you don’t bother with blanching, (not bad, but the texture was a bit fuzzy when they were thawed and boiled up in February,) and still I had too many. It turns out that picking them just stimulates them to make more. So finally I just set the kids loose to graze on them, despite the fact they tended to rip up some plants by the roots, when picking pods.

There was something about grazing that made munching vegetables much more attractive to even the most fussy child. Some, who absolutely insisted they hated all peas, would start out merely hanging out with the others, and then I’d see them sneak a nibble, when they thought I wasn’t looking. I tried not to rub it in when they joined in with the others, and grazed and munched their way down the row. Others were not officially grazing. They were officially “helping me pick”, but more went into their stomachs than the baskets they carried.

You’d think they’d get sick of eating the same thing. (Actually, come to think of it, one little girl did get sick one afternoon, but it partly was due to failing to chew, and she went right back to munching a couple of days later.) There may have been a few days when interest slacked off, and they were more involved with building forts in the woods, but right to the end of the season, when the heat of July makes the lush plants wither and dry, the children would bring up “pea-picking” as a thing they desired to do.

Not that it will happen again. If children have taught me anything, it is that what works one year may not work the next. However I figured it was worth a try. So, today, my muscles all ache in the way they do, when you put in a garden. When I was younger I would tell myself the ache meant I was getting stronger, and meant I would look more attractive to women at the beach. At age 62 I tell myself it is likely either killing me, or keeping me alive. In any case it is an old, familiar ache that walks hand in hand with Spring.

Less familiar is a sort of post-taxes ache in my brain. I find myself trying to keep books concerning the profit and loss of my pea patch,  and imagine facing a highly suspicious government auditor, who assumes any private business is selfish and greedy, and that only the government has the best interests of children in mind. (The funny thing is that government officials make more, and spend more on themselves, as I make less, and spend more on children.)

I think an ache in your brain is far worse than any ache in the body. It is easier, for me at least, to tune out physical pain. The government is involved in a sort of psychological torture, and it is harder to tune out mental pain, for the tuner itself is involved.

In any case, I find myself muttering to myself, involved in needless justifications of being the being I am, and doing the doings I do. I mean, why should the government care a hoot about a pea patch on a remote farm? Haven’t people got better ways to spend their time than to make me nervous, when I write down “pea patch” as a business expense?

I actually feel the pea patch was a profit, over all, last year, but my measure-of-profit is beyond the ken of needle-nosed bureaucrats who measure with money. When my books show that I spent $5.00 on seed, and didn’t sell any produce, they wonder what happened to the peas I planted. Lord knows what disaster could befall me if they found out I ate some myself. I’d wind up like Al Capone, who could not be arrested for what he did, so they had to get him for “tax evasion”. But what is my crime?

That is the psychological torture, and the cruel and unusual punishment, our government is guilty of. It makes people feel guilty for breathing and being alive.

Or that is what I was muttering to myself today, as I walked about achy. There is so much the government inflicts upon its people that is needless. For example, why shouldn’t I simply pay my employees with cash? Why does my government make me responsible for collecting nine of its ridiculous taxes, and doing all the paperwork? I simply don’t have time for such nonsense, and actually pay a firm called “Paychex” to do all that paperwork for me. It costs me $70.00/week, week after week, and after a year that adds up to $3650.00/year I have to pay, when I could just as well be handing my employees cash, and paying nothing.

The government makes you pay in other ways as well. It adds up, and it isn’t merely taxes. It is tantamount to a sort of endless haranguing that makes a nagging wife seem gentle. It is a psychological torture that either so weakens people that the government sees its people collapse, and has killed the goose that laid the golden egg, or else its people rise up and revolt, being driven mad by the government’s psychological torture, and its people are driven to bizarre behavior, such as dressing up as Indians and throwing tea into a harbor.

Here in New England we celebrate our forefathers going nuts, and throwing perfectly good tea into a harbor, and forcing the authorities to respond, with a holiday we call “Patriot’s Day”. We also have a saying, “Plant your peas by Patriot’s Day”.

Well, I have planted my peas. I also enacted a minor rebellion by burning more weeds in my garden without obtaining the proper burn permit.

There was no wind, and you can only burn weeds when it is dry, but if I had tried to get a burn permit yesterday I know darn well I would have been told I had to wait until it was raining, in which case you cannot burn weeds. The government is idiotic. Farmers have burned weeds in gardens ever since the land was first gardened by Indians, (and likely the woods were burned before that, by the pre-agricultural Indians, to keep the glades open and clear for deer), so I just did what needed to be done without a permit.

The fact of the matter is that the government has created so many laws that the average American commits between two and five felonies each day. (Not misdemeanors; felonies.)The laws are seven stacks of paper, each seven feet tall. No normal person has read them all,  and many laws contradict, (so you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t), and they have reached a sort of tipping point where the Law, which is something we should honor and respect, resembles the raving brays of a jackass.

In the face of the government’s psychological torture, it seems civil disobedience is only natural, however I loathe the violent kind. Blowing up spectators during the Boston Marathon is not my idea of a proper celebration of Patriot’s Day. Rather I prefer the peaceful disobedience of Henry Thoreau, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi. Therefore I burn weeds and plant peas, and have business expenses that put love ahead of profit.

A bit of rain came through this morning and dampened the dust, but by afternoon the sun was back out and the dryness was returning. The radar shows a front passing through, but the government could not bother to put a front on the maps.

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The nor’easter went charging past on Sunday, giving the coast a shot of snow and making the groundskeepers hustle to prepare for the Patriots-Bronco’s football game, but even that close to the coast by game-time the snow was gone, and a cold wind roared. Inland we never got any snow, and only shreds of lower clouds sped south in the rising winds. The higher clouds expanded out from the gale, all the world like the anvil-top of a thunderstorm, and then fell back towards the sea. By afternoon the sun was starting to appear as a silver smear in the high, gray overcast,  and then  it peeked under the clouds as it set, alighting the high cloud’s bottoms with orange. Dry leaves were scuttling like herds of brown crabs up and down the streets and over the fields, and anyone who  had their lawn raked will need to rake it again, while some lazier men looked out their windows and smiled, as their lawns were blown clear.

By Monday morning the wind was slackening a little, but it was very cold, with temperatures in the wind just below freezing. Interestingly, it was colder down south, as the storm drove the cold air right down to Georgia.

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The few remaining tender plants that have escaped frost, tucked in southern exposures or hidden in weeds, were found by the searching gusts. Only the tougher plants like Brussels sprouts survive. Winter nears.

At the farm-childcare the children were bounding with energy, partly because they likely spent most of the weekend indoors, and partly because brisk weather just seems to make kids faster. I took a bunch of the older kids out to wait for the bus in the wind and brilliant sunshine, and they bounded about and attempted to tackle me from all sides and angles, and failed, but did stay warm.

I had a lot to do, but also needed to face a State requirement that I be educated, as a child-care-provider, which involves watching seven hours of slightly offensive and patronizing stuff on line.  I managed to sit through two hours. The class is about developing good eating habits in children.  They informed me that vegetables are good for you.  Duh.

They informed me that there is more nutrition in freshly picked vegetables than in vegetables that have been refrigerate and shipped long distances, and which are six days old. Duh.

They informed me that whole wheat flour is better than enriched flour.  Duh. I knew that 45 years ago, as a young hippy munching granola.

And on and on it went. They really did seem to be assuming I was some fat lady in curlers, chain-smoking while watching TV, and baby-sitting a couple kids, and calling it “childcare.” They really are dealing with some sort of lowest common denominator, talking down their noses, and demeaning old and wise dudes like myself.  Grrr. I’m likely twice their age.

It is worse than preaching to the choir, for I was warning everyone who would listen, back in the 1970’s, that processed food lacked the nutrition of farm fresh food,  and there would be hell to pay if people kept eating junk. I stated that, besides the thirteen “essential” vitamins and minerals, there were all sorts of other trace chemicals which nature put in food, and processed food lacked those mysterious ingredients, and therefore we were not properly nourishing children.

Well, now they at least have a word for those trace chemicals. The word is, “phytochemicals”. There are over a hundred of them. They don’t exactly know what they all are or how they all work or how they work in conjunction with each other, but now they have that word they think they are smarter than me, and sit up on a high horse and lecture me. Grrr.  If they had listened to  me forty years ago we wouldn’t now have a generation of fat, pasty kids.  However they are the ones who made “cafeteria food” a byword for for inedible blandness, serving up processed concentrations of sugar, salt, and hydrogenated oils, with the vitamins removed and then added as thirteen supplements, and then decided the kids needed Ritalin, when they started bouncing off the walls . I’m the one called “radical” for opening a childcare that focused on fresh air, exercise and farm fare, and said shocking things like, “Recess is important.”

If anything these government bozos should come to me fawning and grovelling, and beg for my forgiveness. Instead I resemble Rodney Dangerfield, “I don’t get no respect.”  Sigh.

In any case, I only have five more hours of the on-line classes to go.  I am going to try to be good and not swear at the computer screen too much.  I do learn a few things,  even if it is merely a word like “phytochemicals” for something I already knew.

However it does irk me that these government regulators seem to think I have seven hours to spare.  They themselves must have a lot of free time, as they sit about dreaming up ways to make my life harder. (For a while even opening a childcare on a farm seemed impossible, because they call manure “fecal matter,” and don’t want children exposed to it. Fortunately we met a good government official who helped us find a way of calling a trip out to the stables to feed chickens and goats a “field trip.”)

After sitting and watching my computer for nearly three hours, (it takes longer than an hour to watch an hour-long-class, as you need to click various tabs and answer various questions, to prove you are actually present and not “skipping” the class,) I did manage to rush off and pick up our pork from the slaughterhouse.

Today we will cook up little cubes of pork at the ends of long sticks, and roast potatoes dug from the garden, by a campfire. The little children will be exposed to the dangers of blazing coals, pointed sticks, hot grease, and saturated fat. Surely a government regulator would take one look at us, clutch their hearts,  and keel over. However the children don’t seem to mind it, and the parents sign the permission slips, so I assume they don’t mind it either.