The Mushroom Farmer, Chapter 18

לחיים

Oh, it was plenty dank out. Purple cauliflower coming into its own; long strong purple stems launching green flying carpets.

Oh, the purple cauliflower was coming into its own all right. Sooo purple and sooo green, surrounded by rich dirt and welcomed dandelions, a strip of banana bark, irrigation tubing, a leek leaf and crabgrass.

These now sun-celebrating purple cauliflowers, radiant in all directions, had been bedraggled where they were before.

Oh: be-draggled. Gasping. On their sides. Like beached fish. Say this for the mf, he had spotted the bedraggled purple cauliflowers and delicately transplanted them into this spot where they were now not merely unbedraggled but also thriving, thriving, thRivNG on a cold peak COVID-19 pandemic Southern California winter morning of more clouds than sun; rain hanging in air barely mid-50 degrees Fahrenheit.

It made you wanna say Brrrr, as in: Brrrr!!!!

Amid the chill and the briskness and the silent dread and the cold-smoldering smell of the soil, the mf snorted in gulps of rich ripe air and made note of several things. For example, it was time to gently but firmly transplant several young Canary Island date palms from where they were thriving in the parkway to three-or-more gallon plastic pots. This would require forceful wielding of shovel and potentially even pickaxe; also, gentle and considerate transplanting.

Moving the date palms will free up arable soil, and the mf has all these new seeds to plant on behalf of anyone who comes by and also anyone to whom he can safely transport a bunch or more, as much as he can grow:

Basil, Pesto Italian

Broccoli Raab “Del Trasimeno”

Broccoli Calabrese

Cauliflower, Snowball

Chives

Kale, Lacinato

Kale, Dwarf Siberian

Lettuce, Buttercrunch

Lettuce, Red Romaine

Spinach, Bloomsdale Savoy

Onion, Walla Walla

Dankness or no dankness, plague notwithstanding, that’s a good start on some nice salads the mf doesn’t technically have to come and wait for people to pick. People are welcome to come and pick and they already have. For example, the mf put out a bowl of tangerines and oranges on their neighbor Nan’s bench the day before New Year’s and on New Year’s Day, look:

Please take & enjoy; then protest & survive.

The mf felt 1) happy 2) happy 3) happy because here was proof of concept. He could indeed give food away; indeed, he already had, not once but on many occasions. Something is infinitely better than nothing and even though whatever something is may not yet be enough; at least something can be increased.

For example, now the mf can find out how much more food he can give away. This is one of the most urgent and important things the mf is down to discover, and in order to discover it, he intends to explore the work of world-famous urban gardener Ron Finley.

The mf’s friend Chai has told him that Ron Finley originated the idea of producing food on the parkway. Years ago, Finley started growing food on his own parkway in his South Los Angeles food desert, only to be told it was illegal — so he got the law changed. Now Finley leads a whole movement. “It’s gangsta gardening,” Chai told the mf, who likes how that sounds and now, inspired by the success of orange giveaway wants to use what he learns from studying Finley to expand his own contribution to food sufficiency not only beyond the sidewalk in front of his house, but also beyond the curb.

P.S. Всього через кілька годин дві літні українські пари взяли купу апельсинів та мандаринів.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky is the author of The Gift is to the Giver: Chronicles of a 21st Century Decade (Keppie Usage, 2022). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Sun, and Lit Hub. Mark’s essay, “Gritty All Day Long,” is anthologized by Norton and featured in Best American Sports Writing. He has been writing since his emergence as a gigantic music nerd in early-1970’s San Antonio, Texas. Stints as a regular commentator on public radio’s Marketplace and Internet 1.0 exec preceded a 20-year run as a public school teacher. Marko’s favorite writing topics include unorthodox pedagogy, well-intended gardening, and the intersection of baseball and urban bicycling. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he is working on a new book about his quest to play tennis on every free public court in LA.

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