Nature’s Riddle

The computer is fired up and I recently cracked another box of wine. This one is white zinfandel, Gallo; five dollars for five liters at the Grocery Outlet on Pillsbury. It hurts me to give out that kind of insider information, but life is filled with sacrifices these days, and I suppose we’re all on the same side.

The best thing I saw this week was a video of burlesque dancer Michelle L’amour manipulating her butt cheeks in time with Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Realistically it is one of the more memorable scenes I have seen in years, but I don’t get out as much as I used to.

A million years ago in the sleazier end of Hollywood, I served as an extra in a pornographic movie. That was a weird scene. The producer was perfect. He was scrawny and coked to the gills, sweating profusely. I stood about half a foot taller than he, and I probably could have counted his perfectly spaced hair plugs if I’d had the time.

The premise of the movie was routine—a guy in a band gets laid by a couple of groupies. I was part of the band. If it was ever released, and I doubt it ever was, I figured I would have been on screen for the leaner part of two seconds. We shot that scene twice. I thought I nailed it on each take and no one ever told me otherwise.

They shot the thing in the middle of the day. We were inside, it was filmed in a bar, but if you stepped out for air you had to shield your eyes from the sunlight. It was still light out when we left the shoot and walked back to our apartment on Dracena.

Meanwhile in LoMo 

This was a weird year for tomatoes. Everyone I talked to about them said the same thing, regardless of where they were in the country. The fruit all got a late start. They’ve only been consistently producing for the past month or so. I grew several different heirloom varieties this year, and had good luck with a few. The Cherokee Purple and the Arkansas Traveler were planted close, and grew together, and both made a nice, rich fruit. The Cherokee Purple has vertical green stripes cutting through flesh that turns from green to orange to purple. They are sweet and juicy. The Arkansas Travelers are the most perfect, pink fruit you’ve ever seen. The flavor is good, but the appearance is other-worldly, post-modern or maybe alien. I’ll definitely be growing each of those varieties next year and thereafter. The Snow Fairies were disappointing. The fruit came out orange, small and watery, but I’m going to try them at least once more—a single season isn’t enough to make a lasting judgment.

The most surprising occurrence came from a type I planted last year, but not this year, called “Nature’s Riddle.” It is a Russian variety that produces a massive orange and red fruit. I didn’t plant those this season, but that didn’t stop them. They came up about four hundred yards from where the original patch was, in a previously untrammeled plot of land where I put this season’s corn patch. I can only figure a dog or a raccoon must have picked one and taken it down there to eat. They are producing in great abundance

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.