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Veggie run is off-limits for me now

Although she is one of the nicest humanoids you could ever meet, my wife doesn't budge once she plants her feet.

"No offense, but you are not going with me to pick up our garden veggies this year," Maureen said. "You know you get carried away when you get around a plant nursery.

"Let's not forget what happened last year," she added.

She had a point. I recall running out to grab a few young plants and seed packets last spring. There was something about coming back with more than a 100 bucks worth of seedlings, sprouts and other assorted starts.

"If our garden was a little larger, we could have planted most of them," I protested.

"We could have started our own nursery with what was left over," she countered.

OK, that was a little snarky, but once again she was right on target.

"Hey, I might have gotten a little carried away, but gardening is in my blood," I said. "You know my grandfather Jonas Fattig was farming in the Applegate Valley more than a century ago. My genes fell right off the old turnip truck."

"But Jonas' grandson is on a garden budget this year," she observed. "And I've got the planting list we agreed on. I won't fall off the truck like some people. Remember the Inverness trip."

We are saving up for a trip to Scotland to visit the land of my maternal ancestors who, according to family lore, also loved to garden. From what I've read about haggis, I suspect those who survived that foul dish turned vegan.

After Maureen left for the nursery, I took our large loafers in the form of Harpo and Waldo out to our dog park. I figure if the mutts watched me work, perhaps they would get a productive idea.

The pooches were both asleep before I fired up the tiller in the adjacent garden.

But I was in my element. There is something uniquely satisfying about tilling the earth on a warm spring day. The sun is warm on your back. A turkey vulture floats overhead in lazy circles.

And the aroma rising from the fresh earth reminds you that life is eminently worth living.

Indeed, few things are as pleasant as this wonderful rite of spring, a time filled with contemplation and reflection. My imagination always finds fertile ground to soar.

And I am invariably reminded of Lord Alfred Tennyson, one of my favorite poets.

"In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love," he wrote in 1835 in a poem called "Locksley Hall."

Granted, he was only in his mid-20s at the time and didn't know a carrot from catnip. Had he been a bit longer of tooth like some of us perhaps he would have phrased it differently.

"In the spring old geezers fancy digging in the dirt," he might have written.

You're right. It doesn't quite roll off the tongue the same way.

Leaving Tennyson behind, I drifted back down to earth. Like all tillers of the soil, I carefully watched the soil for buried treasure as I churned up the dirt. I have found an 1870s marble in the past, along with countless square nails. On this day I would be awarded with a couple more square nails to add to our collection.

I also thought about the coming bountiful harvest of summer: succulent tomatoes, peppers both hot and sweet, crunchy cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, onions and so much more. We eat the fresh veggies and give away large quantities to friends.

It took about three hours to till the garden, a job I could have finished sooner had I not moved slowly, enjoying the labor of love.

As it turns out, I finished just as Maureen pulled up the long driveway in the pickup.

"You don't have to help me unload anything," she yelled. "It's just, you know, the usual garden stuff."

But the poor vehicle seemed to be carrying a heavy burden, so I wandered over to give her a hand.

That's when I noticed the passenger side and rear seats were filled with boxes of young vegetables. But the mother lode was inside the canopy over the truck bed. It looked like a Thanksgiving turkey, albeit with green stuffing.

"I may have gotten a little carried away," Maureen said, as I began to chortle. "There were all these plants I thought we'd like to try this year."

I'm keeping the receipt that — I kid you not — totaled a whopping $192.14. Call it a seed crop when I go shopping for our garden next spring.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or pfattig@mailtribune.com.