By Timothy J. Brown
This story begins with him walking around in his underwear.
Yeah, that sounds unusual, but it’s morning wear for this guy;this seven-year-old who hasn’t learned that modesty is supposed to be virtuous.
“Supposed to be,” though I’m not sure who dubbed it that. Like most values, these kinds of things are learned, not intuited. So we’re gonna let him just walk around in his underwear in the mornings until he doesn’t want to anymore, hoping he’ll be more body positive than the majority of the world these days.
We allow this even to the chagrin of his grandparents who shake their heads, smilingly, at a little boy who shuns clothes. But a value we’ve learned is the value in making your parents shake their heads like that.
Values are learned…
Anyway, this kid who traipses around in his briefs like he’s some sort of superhero saving the morning from itself has learned that the wild brush and the high fence of our backyard means that the backyard is not a place where anything more than underwear is necessary for outdoor excursions.
This past spring we planted two large four-by-four planter boxes and packed them full of seeds. In a pandemic, this gardening adventure served two purposes.
First: it was a good project and has kept us all busy. So exciting are these planter boxes, that we’ve since added three more of them, compounding the excitement by, well, three.
Tomatoes, big and small; squash, pumpkins, beans, kale, eggplant; peppers, hot and mild—literally five boxes of potential that require a bit of attention and inspire a whole lot of hope in these COVID days.
“You can imagine what kind of harvest can be taken by a little boy who has an aversion to doing things more than once.”
The second reason these vegetables were planted was because his father is a bit of a dreamer and avid reader of stories where the endings aren’t ideal. He imagined that, should the grocery supply lines be broken, the Food Lion markets laid waste, and the world fall into dystopian hell, well, they’d at least have a garden to eat from or bury themselves in.
Yeah, that’s dark. That’s how it is, folks.
Anyway, it begins in his underwear, and this is significant because this boy, not even bothering with shoes, goes out every morning, often before 7:00 a.m., to inspect the garden and harvest what he can find.
Now, seven-year-old hands are not very big, friends, so you can imagine what kind of harvest can be taken by a little boy who has an aversion to doing things more than once. What I mean is, he’s not making a few trips to the garden, back to the house, and then back out to the garden. “One trip Finn” is his name.
You can imagine how frustrating it is to go for walks with him: we’ll often get somewhere, but getting back from somewhere becomes a fight because, well, we did that already!
One trip Finn.
So in his little paws, he collects a few peppers, a few tomatoes, and then, when space becomes scarce in those palms, you’d think the kid would come back for some shorts, preferably with pockets. Or one of those aprons we have hanging in the closet with that large marsupial pouch out front.
The only logical response he has, obviously, is to eat the beloved offerings as he goes, lest he run out of room and the fruit die on the vine.
In hindsight we are all grateful this is his choice as opposed to stuffing the produce in his underwear, which would render it inedible altogether.
He comes in, hands full of peppers and tomatoes, with red liquid dripping from the sides of his mouth and a trail of seeds down his chest—the remnants of the best tomatoes, no doubt.
“Here’s the haul for today, Dad! Looks good, right?” He announces this with such pride and glee that I can’t bring myself to note that those vines should be producing a lot more than this.
“It does, buckshot,” I say, soaking a towel so he can wipe off the yellow dots running down his torso. “Want breakfast?”
“No thanks,” he says, turning, “not hungry.”
Copyright© 2020 by Timothy J. Brown