Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crystal City Carrots

I went to my parents’ house for a visit this afternoon. It was just my twelve year old and I. We sat in the back room overlooking the garden. We talked about the birds that come to the feeder, and how many doves it would take for dinner.

After a time, it was determined that we needed to get out there and pull up some of the last of the carrots. They had loaded the Wimberley branch of the family just last week, and there were quite a few left. We reconvened at the back porch and into the “find your garden shoes” area. I squeezed my giant feet into some stretchy shoes and headed out to the garden.

I always enjoy going to their garden, the smell of the dirt and the flowers and the knowledge that their hands and planning are feeding my family the goodness and love that you can’t buy in the produce department. My Dad and I stooped to start picking the carrots from the rich ground where they had grown since autumn. My Mother and my daughter moved farther down the row.

I was quickly left in the dust, so to speak, by my Dad’s efficient carrot-pulling technique; soon he’d racked up about forty short little carrots, only slightly larger than the ones you pay a premium for at the supermarket. We gathered the riches into the big wash pan, and moved them to the wheelbarrow to be rinsed.

As my Dad rinsed them off with the pressure nozzle on the hose, he told me of a chapter in his life that I had never heard before. His mother’s niece was married to a guy who worked on the well-known King Ranch. One year in the early 40’s, my Dad was about eight and the whole family went from their Austin home to Crystal City to pick carrots. He said that it was about this time of year, and he remembers all the relatives riding a big stake truck out to the fields, picking carrots all day, and getting back on the truck to take the produce to the processor. He remembers the conveyor belt where the carrots got rinsed off with high-powered nozzles, then to where they got graded, etc.

I was fascinated by this short anecdote, a sidebar in his life. This is further proof that “everyone has a story”. You just have to listen. Especially if you think you already know everything.

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