Monday, August 10, 2009

Harald was mistaken

Harald is my next door neighbor, just across the driveway. He helped to build this house in 1948 for his Uncle Clarence. My next next door neighbor is about a half mile from here, and we're about two miles outside the tiny village of Black Earth, Wisconsin.

Harald is directly descended from the Norwegians that were among the earliest settlers here in Vermont Valley. He knows all the history of the area and even remembers the years the various trees were planted around the property and loves to share his stories almost as much as I enjoy hearing them.

He loves the deep rich soil here in Black Earth and told me when we moved in here that, "Whatever you plant in this beautiful soil will grow."

He's articulate, broadly wise, but very humble, and wow, does he love to grow food! He has gardens scattered here and there over several acres around the house. Look behind a copse of trees above his house and you'll discover his experimental squash patch. His 'kitchen garden' is swelled beyond capacity, and he says, "I'd rather mow it than not plant enough!" We've benefitted by Harald's propensity to plant more than he can pick.

Yesterday we were both out in the gardens picking and Harald finished and walked by with a huge bag of beans he had just picked. I piled him high with crookneck squash as he walked past my garden, even stuck a couple in his shirt pocket. You can't leave his house without a hand full of cookies, garlic, or something edible.

I was visiting him a few days ago and he saw a packet of carrot seeds on the windowsill and asked me if I'd like to plant them. I told him I thought that it was too late to plant carrots, that in 60-75 days it would be October and I thought it might be too cold.

Harald said, "Well, they'll never grow in this bag!"
Harald was mistaken, as you can see. I guess a seed was still in there. I'm going to love this batch of carrots.

Our garden is great this year, thanks largely to Harald, but mostly thanks to some of the best topsoil on the planet, abundant sunshine and plenty of rain. My wife and I are very fortunate to have landed here.

All good things,


  1. I love this post.I lived at Harold's (in a tent) briefly for about one week until I found a place in Madison.I saw a post about this blog on Facebook and I'm enriched by taking the time to read. Thank You.

  2. Thank you very much, Steve. I could write a daily blog about Harald and his adventures around here. He's one of the most interesting men I have ever encountered and I'm sure that the mere mention of his name brings a smile to lots of faces.

    Good soil to you,

  3. What a great blog post! Harald is my grandpa and you characterized him perfectly. Glad you had the pleasure to spend time with him!