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  • Today the new soccer pitch was finally ready. I walked over at lunch with the first group to play there for recess. They rolled and leapt and danced with a pure joy I have only seen once before. It was the summer I made a dream garden and gave it to the cows.

    Back when Carly was in Kindergarten we lived in Vermont. I was hired to be the caretaker on a property that was too small to be an estate and too manicured to be a farm. I came on board lured by the promise of a free hand to develop a start-up organic business and found I was more of a housekeeper and errand boy than anything else.

    I was there to make vacations special, to create a veneer of farm and provide a gentle country glow to an otherwise thoroughly urban life style. I tended the possessions and minded the appearances and made the good life look easy.

    I also put in a truly stupendous garden. The farmer who ran Black Angus cattle on the otherwise empty acreage watched me run the tiller to and fro.

    He and his son stopped to lean against the split rail fence after they shifted the cattle from one section to another.

    What the jumped up hell does he want to do with so much garden, he called out while refilled the tiller’s tank.

    He says the world’s going to end and he’s going to be ready, I said.

    No shit, said the farmer. I hope he sends me memo before it all goes down. That way I can get my big savings out and bury them in a coffee can like my old man always told me to.

    What are you going to plant in there, the son asked.

    He likes tomatoes, I said.

    Well he’s gonna have tomatoes to last him to the end of the world.

    We laughed.

    I made raised beds, filled the space between with sawdust , tilled in manure and a bit of this and a bit of that. Money was no object so I hauled bags of bat guano and greensand, granite dust, trace elements mined from remote islands and deep sea deposits. I hauled it out and laid it on thick. I made a soil fantastic.

    I planted half the garden and put in buckwheat as a cover crop in the other half. There were tomatoes and beans, cabbages and squash, beets and carrots, peas and onions, potatoes and sunflowers just for show. The rows were dark green. The buckwheat was waist high and thick with bees.

    It was my dream garden and in the evening I walked down the rows and let my hands trail through the leaves and loved it.

    When the rotation brought the cows alongside they stood by the fence and drooled.

    I noticed the bull dozers one afternoon. A rank of them stood just beyond my garden. Ominous and waiting.

    I went over to the Farm Barn and asked the main estate agent what was up.
    New water line, he said.

    He showed me on the framed map of the original estate.

    Right through my garden.

    Oh, I said.

    And then, when?

    Monday, he told me. That is a helluva garden you put in there, didn’t he tell you about the water project.

    Guess not, I said.

    That afternoon when the farmer and his son swung by I saw them note the bulldozers.

    Think the cattle would like a go, I asked.

    Only if we get to watch, they laughed.

    We took down the fencing and stood back.

    For a moment habit held and then one and suddenly the herd was in the garden. They snorted and pawed and rolled and tore through that garden in a frenzy of wild joy.

    I watched the first set of kids let loose on the field and laughed.

    Joy, wild joy.
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