marklistMark and I have partnered 34 years.  “A long time with one woman,” Uncle Jerry told Mark after our 2 week anniversary.  He and Aunt Janette have been married over 60 years now.

We partner pretty well.  Partly because of our similarities and partly because of our differences.  We both like walks, good books,  good movies, our low-on-the-food-chain-local-seasonal diet, chickens, bees, farming endeavors, and chocolate pudding cake with ice cream.  AND our daughters, granddaughters and son-in-laws, who bring us much joy.  Mark and I share a core belief in God, and work to live in ways that reflect our desire to see justice, mercy, and grace at Fern Creek, in our community, nation and world.

But we have our differences.  Take technology.  When Mark is not outside digging ditches, hoeing, or doing other farm work, he’s pretty much in front of his computer–writing programs and apps, prepping courses, reading papers, looking at stats on the Bears.  Me, well, until I started this blog I spent as little time as possible in front on my computer.  Mark likes the GPS lady.  He thinks she’s nice.  She drives me crazy.  Give me a map and let me test my intelligence over her, “Re-routing…  Re-routing… Turn left at the first possible chance (you idiot).”  She says these last two words under her breath, but I hear them all the same.

I’m better at the “customer service” end our of CSA; Mark’s Way Better at anything related to the irrigation system, though I don’t always trust his judgment on how much to water.  Basically he’d error on the side of watering more, and I’d error on the side of watering less.  Mostly we’ve figured that one out.  And I’m learning (mostly) to trust Mark that we ought to plant more of everything I want to grow for our CSA.  Though I also know that when it comes to things like kohlrabi, fennel, and Brussels sprouts I’m on my own. Any fennel is too much fennel, according to Mark, though he’s come to appreciate kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts.

The only time we run into glitches is when we both think we might be better at the same thing.  That season starts about now and runs through to about the first of June.  We start it off every year with a discussion about when to start our seedlings and later it will be  when to direct seed our seeds.  Gone are the simple days when we planted our entire family garden on one warm day in May.  Beans, cucumbers, lettuce, snow peas, radish, cabbage–they all went into the ground on one day.  Of course, we had a lot of crop failures back then…

The bottom line is that I trust what I read and Mark trusts his experience.  Either one can lead to expertise, or error.  For instance,  I trust the Johnny’s seed catalogue that tells me if I plant cucumber seeds too early they will rot in the cold, wet ground before they have a chance to sprout.   Mark trusts our experience, which is that two years ago our cucumber seeds rotted in the cold, wet ground when we planted them too early.  So long as experience and the written word line up with each other, all is good on the marital front.  But sometimes they don’t.  Experience is fine and good, I say, so long as one has an accurate memory of how the experience actually turned out. Reading advice is good, Mark says, but less helpful when one author’s advice conflicts with another’s, or with experience for that matter.

We know that every year we will return to this conversation–and in our heart of hearts we know that a blend of experience and written advice is the best way forward.  We also know that in either case one has to account for unusual weather patterns, like a cool, wet spring that might alter the experience or the validity of the written advice from year to year.  We anticipated the Discussion this year, and actually, this morning when it started, we managed it pretty well.

So we’ll start cabbage earlier than the tables on the “Last Possible Frost Date” suggests, but not on January 28.  We’ll undoubtedly over-plant onions and green beans, and under-plant fennel.  We’ll fret about whether or not the snow and snap peas will germinate and the slugs consume the lettuce. Then come June, when ripe strawberries, big heads of lettuce, radish, kohlrabi, broccoli and snow and snap peas are all ready for the start of our CSA we’ll smile and pop a few berries in our mouths.  I’ll lean my back against Mark’s chest and he’ll wrap his arms around me, and we’ll watch the bees go about their pollinating work as they collect pollen and nectar, glad to have made it to June.


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