Sunday, April 03, 2011

Tea Party Slim in "Urban vs. Rural Smackdown"

I was digging in my garden when Tea Party Slim walked in the backyard gate. “What you doin’,” he asked?

As I leaned on the shovel handle, I felt a twinge in my back. It was the first warm day of spring. “Digging,” I said.

Slim sat down in the porch shade. He sipped Diet Coke from a can. “Want to borrow my rototiller? Makes the job so much easier.”

I surveyed the mounds of turned earth. It was black and filled with decomposing leaves. I saw earthworms wriggling, an indication of rich soil. This is my third year of gardening in Cheyenne – this time around, anyway. 

“I like digging.” I pushed the shovel into the dirt.

Slim sipped his Diet Coke. “You Liberals think that growing-your-own is something you invented.”

Slim was testing me again. “Why do you say that?”

“You didn’t invent gardening. You didn’t invent farmer’s markets. My relatives in rural Wyoming were growing and canning tomatoes and cucumbers long before you were born. Victory gardens – you ever heard of those?”

I contemplated banging Slim on the head with the shovel. But it wouldn’t even put a dent in that thick noggin of his. “My relatives were farmers, too,” I said. “My Grandpa Shay grew up in Iowa and was growing the juiciest tomatoes this side of Iowa City into his nineties. All in his backyard garden in Loveland.”

“Were your parents farmers? Mine were – and went broke in the process.”

“Sorry to hear that,” I said – and meant it. “I know that farming isn’t easy. And no, my father was an accountant and my mother was a nurse.”

“It’s a hard life,” Slim said. “Seems to me that you Liberal gardeners and locavores and vegans are trivializing the lives of rural Americans. City slickers vs. simple country folk.”

This gave me pause. Gardening is in. Farmers’ markets are big. Even some grocery stores stock local and organic produce and grass-fed beef from Wyoming. A half-dozen farms within 100 miles provide community-supported agriculture deliveries to Cheyenne. “People are making a living from farming,” I said. “Not in a big way. Small farms. That’s good, isn’t it?”

Slim chugged the rest of his Diet Coke and tossed the can in the trash. Oops,” said, looking at me. “You probably want to recycle that, right?”

“I will recycle that can, yes. Something wrong with recycling?”

“Does recycling and green energy provide jobs? You Liberals want to shut down all the coal mining and power-generating jobs in Wyoming. Are you going to replace them with legions of people sorting cans and bottles and newspapers? I don’t think so.”

"More than a million U.S. jobs are in recycling," I said. "Recycling reduces greenhouse emissions by 30 percent, the same as taking 25 million cars off the road." 

"And the Greenies shall inherit the earth." 

“Look, Slim, I’m just trying to grow a few tomatoes in my backyard. I have no plans for world domination.”

“Maybe you don’t, but some of your fellow travelers do.”

“They are welcome to it. I’ll be busy gardening for the next three or four months.”

Slim was quiet for awhile.  A gentle breeze carried with it the rich scents of spring. “I can go get that rototiller for you.”

I surveyed the yardage I still had to dig up. I could feel a spasm starting in my lower back. O.K.,” I said. "Bring it on over.”

Slim stood. “Modern technology is good for you,” he said with a smile.

“Things like solar panels and wind generators? Electric cars? Energy-saving light bulbs?”

“Coal-fired power plants? Internal combustion engines? Incandescent light bulbs?”

We stared at each other for what seemed like seconds.

Slim finally headed for the gate. “You’re gonna love this baby. 305cc engine, electric starter, four forward and two reverse gears, 16-inch ag tires….”

“As long as it tills the soil and saves my back,” I said.

“I’ll throw it in my Hummer and be right back,” he said as exited the gate.

Slim lives two doors down. He can push the tiller from his house to mine faster that he can drive it. But what the hell – one small step at a time.

No comments: