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Monday, July 21 (continued)

We wander out of the garden and to the side of the road where wild blackcap bushes are growing. They are a favorite. They’re meaty and sweet, not quite as tangy as a raspberry. But thorny, ouch. I pick about a quarter cup of black caps off two bushes and then start on the raspberries. I suspect that experienced berry pickers are faster, because it takes me an entire hour to pick the requisite two cups that MaryJane asked for.

I’m glad to find MaryJane a very patient teacher. She tells me what to do and leaves me to my own accord.

I’m glad to find MaryJane a very patient teacher. She tells me what to do and leaves me to my own accord.

And I make the most delicious raspberry and black cap breakfast puff. It’s wonderful. And it goes great with the campfire coffee that MaryJane makes in honor of my caffeine habit.

Where you have food, you have dishes. It’s a calm and quiet task that involves playing in the water and doing something that’s useful at the same time. Just like cooking and eating outdoors, washing dishes takes on a peaceful air in the Plum Pit.

When it’s time to weed the garden, MaryJane leads me to the Pump House where the garden tools are stored, all hung neatly on the wall and in their place. MaryJane selects two hoes; not just ordinary hoes, but Amish hoes. She explains that this Amish hoe is lighter weight and the head is shorter than a traditional hoe. Also the sides are sharp. We take our hoes to the workshop for a brief sharpening lesson.

MaryJane’s rules on tools are: 1) never skimp on tools — buy the best; 2) always put your name on tools; and 3) keep them sharp, and always keep a file in your pocket while working in the garden so you can knock off the edges and keep the going smooth.

MaryJane says she doesn’t use a bench grinder for sharpening garden tools because grinders tend to overheat the metal, compromising the tempering. That weakens the tool. She walks to the back wall of the shop and picks out two files for the job. MaryJane clamps her hoe into a bench vise to hold it steady for sharpening. She starts filing across the cutting edge to unravel any burrs and to check the straightness of the edge. Then cutting into the bevel, she files at it in short strokes, then longer. Soon all edges are well filed and the hoe is sharp, really sharp. So, she hands the file to me and it’s my turn. I learn quickly to pay close attention when MaryJane shows me something, because the next time it is done, I’ll be on my own.



Dish Duty in the Plum Pit



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