Gardiner's Garden Basket
“His basket would never be FULL. Only what they’d EAT. Pick and EAT IT. That handle’s just a stick. His basket was NEVER heavy. Never FULL. Break the handle. LOT of the handles (on the garden baskets I find) ARE broken though. Garden baskets were never made to be FULL.”
“But... SAME; their full meal. Dirty on the bottom.”
“The root crops. Those go in first. We all do that. First I’d see his hand in the potatoes. FEELING in up over his wrist. Into a hill. Take out two medium. He always ate the larger one. Carrots. Onion. Those dirty in the bottom (of the basket).”
“I ate his carrots”.
“Feeding a horse”.
“You wouldn’t eat anything else.”
“Sometimes a BEAN. Those little tomatoes.”
“Those went on top of the dirty; lettuce, dill and the fluffy’s on the top”.
“Dill... nope. In a PICKLE OK.”
“Ain’t you a VEGAN?”
“I though SURE you IS.”
“Lets see what you got in the (pickup truck) cab.”
I turn away from the tailgate.
“Carrie GIVE me one of her cheese CROW-SAINTS.
“Cheese crow-saints?” I say turning back.
“She MAKES those. FRENCH she says. She’s CANADIAN you know.”
“And makes French crow-saints? You got one? Let’s see it”.
“I ATE IT.”
“ATE IT? What else you got in there? Vegetables?”
“WHALE... DAY OLDS”.
“WHALE... DAY OLDS”.
“Day old? Bakery?”
“WHALE... EXPIRED... E-me sell me them.”
“WHALE ...she says: I says to her THESE EXPIRED SEE and show her (the date). She says NOT... on these here TOMORROW. OH I says. THEN she says OH GO ON Fetchy. She give me HALF OFF. A beer too; dented. She says I dented it and they don’t sell dent BEER. Then she says OH GO”.
“REGULAR VEGAN ain’t yah. Where’s your garden basket.”
“Don’t have one. Don’t have a garden. I JUST wanted GARDINER’S. I THINK. Whale... I don’t CARE do I. Just SEE IT AGAIN.”
“Amy... I got one from THAT PLACE. Her AUNTS or something; uncle, AUNT; something to do with her. Not direct.”
“To her? You got her basket?”
“A basket. Garden basket. The one that was in there. NOT HERS. She don’t have a basket. She don’t even KNOW there’s a basket to have OR a garden to use it in”.
“Yeah but... this was her aunt’s place. That little farm... you know... down below Rich’s. Got one little attached barn. House is out by the road. Had the garden right off to the left in front. Pulled right in next to it. That’s how I knew.”
“Knew? Know they had a basket? How’d you know THAT?”
“Pull in next to the garden. Could see right there. Right there; there’s a FOOT PATH; trampled PATHWAY. Right out the shed DOOR. Right across the drive into the GARDEN. Someone do that EVERYDAY. To the GARDEN. So.. they’ve GOT to have a basket... right in THERE; in that shed. Right HANDY. From the kitchen door. Got to be RIGHT THERE. And there it was.”
“WHALE... you some WEASEL... do’en THAT!”
“WEASEL? Doing that? What’s that but just a PLAIN as your FACE. YOU’RE THE WEASEL; old day-old NOT OLD Fetchy the weasel”.
“BUT... you WEASELED that basket I know YOU.”
“Didn’t weasel it. Just didn’t. Just didn’t do NOTHING. Just waited. Course I SEEN it. Did TOUCH IT. Figured... you know... they’d LEAVE IT. And they did. Took it all else; the TV. Washer-dryer. Sofa. Damn SOFA TOO. FINE I says... leave what you DON’T WANT and we’ll fix the PRICE. And they DID. They regular cleaned it out FOR ME. Just left the ‘old stuff’ they CALLED IT. I took that basket right out to the cab. GARDEN STILL GOING with them PICKING IN IT. Didn’t even ANYTHING about BASKETS. Picked the tomatoes and put them in banana boxes. ... I still got that one (that garden basket). Up in the...”.
“You didn’t sell it?”
“Nope. No one wants it. Bottom’s gone. They don’t know. Old one. Civil War. That farm is 1858. The barn; 1858. Probably built the house first. Probably something there before that house. They hadn’t used it (the garden basket) for a while. Stopped. When she died I’d figure. BUT. Well. It was KEPT in the SAME place. On the bench back by the (kitchen) door. So... it sat wet. So. That took out the bottom. Over the years. The DIRT. Stuck in the bottom. And wet”.
“So... GOT WET?”
“Well... a lot of ‘em (the garden basket user) will WET DOWN the basket (contents) AFTER they picked. Get it ready to CLEAN (the root crops in the bottom). Millie Bracket: SHE... JESUS. Was there one day and she takes that sweetheart (garden basket) she’s got right over to the well and PUMPS right on the whole PICK. GUSHING right out the bottom. Does it EVERY DAY.
“You tell her?”
“NO! JUST WAIT. She’ll be done with it soon enough. She’s EIGHTIES. You figure she’s been GUSHING that basket for the last forty years. I bet. HER bottom’s gone. Inner bottom; where it SITS WET.”
“You looked at it.”
“Yep... I DID. Sort of without SAYING. JUST picked it up WET and turned it over. She didn’t think anything.”
“You didn’t ask her?”
“Whale... you’d THINK she KNOW.”
“She don’t KNOW! Jesus Fetchy... THIS HERE; these old garden baskets, is BECAUSE they don’t know. That’s HOW we GET. They don’t know they’re USING IT; great Grammy’s. THEN when WE get ‘em... WELL ...I GET ‘em. And have it. And (sometimes) SHOW IT... WELL... THOSE: They think the bottom’s BROKEN. I mean... THEY JUST DON’T GET IT. The path. The garden. The water. EVERYDAY at least ONCE a day. And it’s a hundred and fifty years old too. To GET THAT WAY.”
“WHALE. They’s SPECIAL TO ME.”
“Fetchy... you ever EAT with Gardiner? See him COOK?”