Guest Column: The joys of digging potatoes
March 4, 2020
Some days, as a mother, are harder than others. There are minutes, hours, days, and even weeks that may seem insurmountable; a simple joy found in an unexpected place can lighten an entire month and bring you lasting memories of happiness and warmth when your children are grown and carrying on with their own lives.
I felt inspired to chronicle one such moment with my oldest son Caleb. I have an outdoor plot at the Lincoln community garden at the east end of town. Since having my new baby in July, there have been a few community members kind enough to look after my indoor and outdoor plots when I was busy with a newborn.
One cool day in early fall I decided to go and harvest my outdoor plot, which was filled with butterball potato plants. I wasn’t expecting much, because the owners of my neighboring plots had mentioned the fact that their harvested potatoes had been affected by invasive rodents, chewing away at their cold, earthy spuds. My mind, full of hope, but prepared for disappointment was clicking away with the meals I had planned to use the potatoes in, and my mouth watered in anticipation. Caleb followed me into the mud, and we waded to the first plant. I pulled up the first plant and gingerly put my small garden spade into the rich dirt and dug. My spade hit something heavy and I pulled the first potato out. Round, firm, juicy, and perfect! I showed it to Caleb, who began digging feverishly for the next one.
Soon we had the first plant completely excavated and we hopped on, not slowing down. Quickly we filled a five-gallon bucket. At the end of the first row, we removed a potato the size of my baseball cap; we became elated and driven by the hunt for the delicious buttery spuds. Each time a splotch of skin showed through the dirt, Caleb would squeal with delight, singing mo’, mo’, mo’ (more). The simple joy of sunshine and dirt was enough for him, and on the happy afternoon, only our small world of digging existed.
The extreme sense of pride I had inside made me feel as though I was the richest person in the world, showered with blessings. Looking down at my muddy and grubby ecstatic child, I realized I was. Instilling in him that sense of simple joy and pleasure that comes from working with your hands in the earth is a job that I relish and am honored to have.
The confidence to accomplish a tas k and the emotions of pride and fulfillment are some of the greatest treasures I can help my sons discover. The simple joys of digging potatoes.