Friday, September 11, 2009

Small Potatoes

Well, it's September 11th. I don't think about September 11th very much. I didn't think about it today until I checked Facebook and saw everyone's statuses reminding me and telling me that they were thinking about it and also pretty sad about it.

I woke up this morning planning to write a post about some potatoes I grew in a window box. They're Magic Mollies, purple potatoes that I hoarded for almost a year to plant in my garden. When we had to move out and couldn't take the garden with us I got the shovel and uprooted one of the potato plants. It was a wonderful color, dark green with purple coming up the stem and spreading into the leaves growing in every direction. I put it in a long narrow plastic container with some silty dirt and hoped for the best. Over the summer it continued to grow, taller and taller but there were never any flowers on it. Eventually the whole thing collapsed on itself and I made the executive decision to rip the thing up rather than cart around twenty pounds of dirt to yet another of my many homes.

All that came of it were a handful of tiny potatoes. They looked like something a woodland animal leaves behind. Appetizing, but I didn't get around to eating them, then forgot them in a friend's refrigerator. It was a disappointing yield but still the Mollies are magical to me. Anytime you have a hand in creating something, even something so small and turd-like, it's kind of a thrill.

The scale of the worthwhile and the meaningless is such a difficult one to balance. On the one hand I'm thinking about a day eight years ago when thousands of people died a short subway ride away from me. I have memories of the day and the days that followed. My mother got sick that same week and was in the hospital for ages, it seemed. I remember visiting her and walking through the ER hallways lined floor to ceiling with pictures of missing people. On the other hand I'm thinking about potatoes.

When today passes I'll be thinking about the potato side of life far more prominently. Or there will be another unspeakable tragedy and I'll think about that. Or another crop, something even more sustaining and delicious and I'll think about that. I guess on the anniversary of important events, both good and bad, we're not just thinking of one day but all the days in between, all the events that have changed and shaped us, who we were and what we've evolved into. And we hope this time next year things will be better.

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