Sunday, February 12, 2017

My potato friend

When I was in my formative years--my teens and early twenties, the garden of my life was populated with all kinds of people. There were friends who were like ornamental flowers, they were fun to laugh and play with now and then, but they didn't last. There were my favorite kinds of fruits--raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes, cherries (I can eat any of these until I'm sick!). These were my favorite kinds of friends to hang with. I had some friends I never got tired of hanging with, people I could talk to all night, and have so much fun with. And then there were the potatoes. I love potatoes. This is important to understand. I can't think of a single way you can fix a potato that I won't want. They're also my go-to comfort food. Better than chocolate or other candy--for me--any day of the week. And what is also important about potatoes is that they're root vegetable. They are hidden under the soil, they go deep.

I have one friend from my youth that I think of as my potato friend. Writing about her in relation to a garden is important because she's become a gardener now. An organic farmer, to be more precise. Her garden is large and lush and full of all kinds of beautiful vegetables and fruits that she takes to markets in the towns near where we grew up.

So let me tell you about my deep-roots friend. She has roots and depth and we spent hours in our teens plumbing those depths together. We spent plenty of time having fun with our group of guy friends but when I think of her, it's the time we spent alone together, talking about God, ourselves, the future, boys, all matters of life that I most remember. If you asked me how she impacted my life, I would be hard pressed to answer, in a way. It isn't because she didn't, it's because we were so often with each other, so tied up together in every activity, everything we did, that it's like what Catherine says about Heathcliff,

 "Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being."

 My friend, PH, and I were each other for all intents and purposes our last two year of high school. I rarely did anything without her, without consulting her, without thinking about how it might affect her. And I know the same was true for her.

Yes, she is a quieter person than I am, and I might have swallowed a lot of air in the room when we were with a large group of people (I know myself), but that didn't make a whit of difference when we were sitting by ourselves on the dock at her lake cabin, or sitting on the side of a wheat field after a long bike ride along country roads. And it's in our quiet, alone conversations, that she most impacted my life, that she was my potato friend, pushing me to develop deep roots, giving me solid, lasting food. 

We haven't been close as adults. There are reasons for this on both sides. Her life has had twists and turns in it that we couldn't have imagined back in our dock-talking days. She has worked hard to get her organic farm, to discover that she could, needed to, and is brilliant at being a one-woman wonder at digging in the dirt and drawing sustenance and beauty from it. She goes at it with a singlemindedness that is hard won and worthy of her. I am proud of who she's become, and glad to see her as healthy as the earth on which she dwells. 

1 comment:

Pamela M. Steiner said...

Regardless of whether or not we have stayed close to our once close school friends...they are the friends that "knew us when" we were still growing, yearning for freedom and life, and with whom we often experienced a lot of our "growing pains". They will always be held close in our hearts because of those early growth spurts together. I am glad that you still value and treasure this "potato" friend. I am sure she treasures you as well! Thank you for telling us about her. You are blessed to have been blessed by her presence in your life!!!