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THE WHOLE POINT OF LIVING…

I find myself thinking a lot about death lately.

Looking to nature, it is the time of year when the natural cycle of things is winding down—I recently ripped out my summer garden, which caused some odd feelings of shame and guilt even though the plants had become completely dormant (it’s an odd thing getting attached to plants). It could be the recent health tribulations of my oldest cat, the rightful first born of the family. Or even some of my own natural and borderline obsessive fixations on unpleasant subjects. Maybe it’s the untimely demise of several of my professional projects. Or my extra time spent in Cleveland lately, staring at the grand architectural tombs of American might and having to wonder “What the hell happened here?” Whatever happened has been enough to make me put “Seasons in the Sun” on repeat, and searching out Terry Jacks on your playlist by yourself in a hotel room is not a good place to be.

But most likely, my recent ennui is a result of my introduction to a specific tiny cocksucker known as the Agave Snout Weevil (Scyphophorus acupunctatus pigfuckerus, if you’re being scientific). The little fuckers took down the two largest six foot agaves in my backyard before I could even blink. One day, I had twin monuments to hardiness and natural wherewithal, the next, my most menacing and impressive blue agave was quite literally keeling over at a forty-five degree angle as if it had been shot in an old western. When I approached it for a closer inspection I could have sworn I heard it wheeze “Fuckin’ weevils…” Not draught, not fire, just a family of snouted shiny black bastards happily making it’s entrails into Swiss cheese. It really is the little things that get you in the end.

If the garden made me feel slightly ashamed, the agave project made me feel like a grave digger. Yes taking them down had to be done, and in certain terms hard work is it’s own reward. But damned if it didn’t hurt. How appropriate then, when “Tecumseh Valley” came across the radio as I was taking a machete to the last of the big plant’s fronds. It was an appropriate downer of a swan song and it was enough to drive me to a misguided attempt at backyard prairie justice involving chopping both snouted beetles and their larvae into rough pieces with the giant knife I was wielding. My attempt at bloody judge and jury did little besides prove my own horrible aim and considerably dull the machete’s blade.

The upside of all this is that a long procrastinated landscaping projected has now been launched to a forceful beginning and moreover, my garden is now replanted. I now have 3 rows of chards, cruciferous veg and winter lettuces beginning happy existences. I even have a new patch of strawberries, The Wolf’s favorite, and hopefully tangible proof that the red fruits don’t actually come from Costco as she seems to currently believe.

We’re all destined for the compost heap, I suppose. But the new plantings should enjoy their considerable time in the sun before that happens. And the best part of all of it is when I cut their tender young shoots down in their prime, more will be there in time for the next fresh dinner salad. An act of defiance that would make a grand old blue agave proud.

Garden Salad

Trim the outside leaves off several of your young plants. Wash, dress with vinegar, olive oil, shallots and black pepper. Cheat death for one more day.

As a variation you can skip the washing and enjoy a little soil to chew on, if you’re feeling existential about it.

 

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6 responses to “THE WHOLE POINT OF LIVING…”

  1. Carole O'Connell says:

    that is the good thing about gardens though, they die back & look so awful & everything goes grey. But you can replant & have beauty & good things to eat all over again. Here in CO, everything goes from lovely to grey & brown overnight. Our little bit of snow last night & the freeze did a number on everything. No more leaves on the trees, just brown & grey & dead. Guess it’s winter!

    • Jake says:

      I actually really miss the winters since leaving the Northwest. I think the garden here actually can go pretty decently year round if you plant accordingly, but the agaves were what really hurt.

  2. Joe B says:

    Really loved this one, man.

  3. Bubba says:

    I have a blue agave that was brought back from Mexico when it was just a baby. That was 4 years ago and the guy that gave it to me was surprised that it was still alive and had grown as much as it had. I won’t live long enough to see it mature but hopefully someone here in Jakarta will make some juice out of it when it gets to maturity.

    • Jake says:

      They really are amazing plants– I inherited mine when I bought my house but I hate to see them brought down. Hate those damn weevils.