Sunday, November 22, 2009


Gladys Taber had a generous friend named Helen Beals. They were neighbor so when Gladys was depressed she'd call her on the phone (they had party lines at that time). Helen could sense when Gladys needed more than a few kind words. "Come over," she would say, "I'll put 44 beans in your cup." Gladys would begin to feel better at once. Gladys also wrote, "After Thanksgiving it will be winter." That's what oldsters think but youngsters think, "After Thanksgiving it will be Christmas."
It is said that Thoreau once had a bean field and cared for seven miles of plants. He wrote that he loved the plants that attached him to the earth. They made him strong. In fact, he wrote, "I cherish them." Oh, to be a cherished bean! He learned from them and wondered what they learned from him. He hoed from 5AM to noon, often in his bare feet. He became intimate with his beans and walked along the row playing his flute for them. He also received a lot of free advice from his neighbors and wrote, "I came to know how I stood in the agricultural world." When he paused in the shade at the end of the rows he leaned on his hoe and deeply appreciated the lovely lively world around him. It made him pity the people who lived in town. He'd paid 54 cents for his hoe and $3.12 for the bean seed. It had cost him $7.50 to get the field plowed and 75 cents to rent the horse and cart to get his crop to market. The harvest yielded $16.94. I don't know if this was his profit or the gross earning. After all of this he found that selling the harvest was the most difficult part for it entailed giving up the beans he loved. I believe he did not plant beans again, for he was amazed to meet a man who had raised beans for 70 years.
When I went out to sprinkle yesterdays coffee grounds around the raspberry canes I discovered a balmy breeze caressing the land so I stood for a long time thinking about the beans that I have cherished. I love to raise the Scarlet Ladies in their flaming skirts and the Painted Ladies that burst into bloom with a thousand tiny pink ruffled bonnets.
Annie Dillard has posed an interesting question. "If I fell in the forest would a tree hear?"
I have decided that I will return the journals to those who gave them. They will then have a hand-written book of words put down by myself with generous portions of ideas from my literary mentors. So this first one, entitled "The Hogwarts Journal", will go to Sharon Saxton. She will also find a bit of black beads taped to the previous page and will be amazed when she touches them and finds a parade of my ancestors coming to meet her.

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