Work is the New Relaxation

WHILE TECHNICALLY UNEMPLOYED, I FIND MYSELF WORKING HARDER THAN EVER

I’ve been working up in the mountains lately—real genuine, callous creating, manual labor type business. I use about equal parts shovel and chainsaw, and sometimes I scare myself. There is a lot about forestry that I don’t know. The first day I was up there I nearly trapped myself under shifting logs, but I was being a complete idiot. I’d like to think I’m smarter now, but there is always another lesson in the works.

When I’m not working up amongst the cedars, manzanitas, and dogwoods, there is plenty to do down on the farm. Right now it primarily involves cutting grass. After that week of rain followed by the bright sunshine and warmer temperatures, the grass shot up to knee high and taller in some places. I had to break down and buy both a new lawn mower and a new weed whacker. The neighbors were starting to wonder if I was ever going to get to it. Well I finally have, and now my new perfume is eau de cut grass. My pant legs are crusted with the stuff and I itch all over.

I finally got around to sowing my tomato seeds. Just yesterday I planted a flat of five different heirloom varieties. I’ve got Brandywine and Black Krims, as well as a massive orange and yellow Russian variety called “Nature’s Riddle.” There are also Zebra Greens and a six-pack of a rare heirloom called “Paul Robeson.” I’m only growing the Robeson’s because they are hard to find. Last year the plants came out anemic and stringy, and what little fruit they produced was watery and not as flavorful as the other four varieties. The Robeson seeds looked kind of mildewed anyway. If they don’t germinate, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

My New Nickname

I found out from one neighbor that another neighbor calls me “the hippy.” I asked if it was on account of my long hair. That was a joke, as my haircuts these days generally consist of buzzing my hair down to fine stubble. The real reason is because Trish asked him not to spray poison along the shared fence-line, as we are growing organic vegetables fairly close to the boundary. I suspect he is still spraying, because I’ve never seen weeds turn naturally orange before. It’s alright though, the vegetables are far enough away that I don’t suspect he can do them any harm. It was more of a principled stand than anything.

The Idiot Box Strikes Again

Trish is enamored of the ABC hit drama Nashville, but I find myself strangely drawn to old television shows and movies—reruns airing on ME TV, Antenna TV, and the THIS Network. The old cop drama Kojak set in New York in the 1960s or ‘70s is ranking number one right now, with marathon stretches of Carroll O’Connor in The Heat of the Night coming in a close second. That’s Sunday afternoon and early evening viewing. During the week I’m too wiped out to pay much attention to anything.

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.