Mort Mather Author Writer Organic Farmer Philosopher Thinker Restauranteur

How to improve your life and save the world.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Instinct -- an Orvie story

I'm writing another book, this one about a boy growing up on a small farm in the 1940s. His name is Orvie and these are his stories. 

Dad docks my allowance a nickel for every Colorado potato grub he finds Ya see, if I can find and squash all the orange bunches of, what-a-ya-call-it, eggs, I guess, before they hatch there won’t be any of those red things hatching out which is what eats the potato leaves. You wouldn’t believe how much they can eat and how fast they grow. Why I’ve seen it where there was just stems left. That was before Dad had the idea of hiring me to go after ‘em. I can spot the eggs easy enough, they’re bright orange, but it sure would be easier if they laid ‘em on top of the leaves. I gotta to pull back every plant on both sides to check for the buggers. Once they hatch the bastards head for the top of the plant to eat where, of course, they are easy for Dad to spot and he checks the patch every day.
My dad isn’t a bad guy. If I do a real good job on the egg clusters once a week in normal weather and twice a week if it is nasty hot, I can kill all of them before they hatch. Besides, I can tell when dad is getting ready to do his tour of the gardens and get out there ahead of him just squashing any grubs that I missed. He usually leaves his inspection of the potato rows ‘til last and I don’t think he counts all the ones he sees. I’ve seen him squash a few without saying anything or docking my pay.
I gotta tell ya, that is tedious work though--bending and looking under the leaves. I try to keep my mind off the heat and the mosquitoes. Mostly I think about Ginny. She’s not my girlfriend. I don’t even talk to her ‘sept maybe “hi”; but she just pops in my mind a lot. She’s on my school bus and I try to work it out so I’m right behind her when we get on the bus coming home and on a really good day I’ll be able to sit behind her; that way, when I’m getting into my seat, I can bend over real close and smell her hair. Gosh, I can smell it now.
She lives on a horse farm nearly five miles away. Last week I rode my bike over to her house, well, to the end of her lane. Her house is down a long lane and all their fields have white fences around them. I was hoping I would see her; maybe she would be out brushing her horse and I could just ride down her lane and say “hi.” No luck. I just sat there on my bike rocking back and forth wishing I could at least catch a glimpse of her. She has the most wonderful really blond hair.
I get paid for picking cucumber beetles. That’s the allowance that gets taken out of. Pretty good allowance, I’d say. It only took me two years to save up for my bike. I’m saving up for a car now. I don’t get docked for any cucumber beetles my dad finds. They’re a lot trickier because you can’t see their eggs and when they are grubs, that’s before they turn into beetles, they are underground. Worst of all potato beetles don’t hardly ever try to get away so they’re easy to squash but when cucumber beetles see me they usually stop moving but as soon as I move toward them they fly or drop or run. Ya gotta wonder how they know I’m after them; and why do they do different things? And how am I going to get down this row without being bored out ‘a my tree?
When I’m not thinking about Ginny I get to thinking about the beetles. I’ve got this game I play with the ‘em; I pretend they’re my friends in another life. Well, it’s not exactly another life it’s like if life was a pinball game? I would be the pinball? But I’d also be playing the pinball game but as the pinball I wouldn’t really know that someone, actually myself, would be playing the game. Awe, well, I hope you get it. Now in this game it’s not just me and my pinball. In this game I am the star of the show but my friends can also come into the game as different characters.
So my friends are watching me in the game in the cucumber patch, like they are hanging around the pinball machine, and one of them says, “Let’s go play hid and seek with Orvie.”
“Count me in! I’m going to freeze when he comes along so he won’t see me,” says another.
“That won’t work. Have you forgotten the yellow stripes on your back? You’d have a better chance if you dropped off the leaf.”
“I’m going to do a Peter Pan and fly away,” says a fourth.
Got to admit that’s a pretty good strategy but the one I hate the most is: “I’m going to run down the stem. If he tries to squash me, the spikes on the stem will hurt like hell.” Now you see, that’s not real friendly.
I wouldn’t exactly say that hide and seek (and thinking of Ginny and a car) make the job fun but it does help pass the time plus now I’m wondering if instinct really is something like that. I haven’t heard of a better idea.

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