"Hey Farmer Small, where were you yesterday?"
"I went down to celebrate the Grumpy Farmer's birthday with him. "
"Oh right," I said. "I was going to send him a card."
"That's pretty lame," said Farmer Small. "I got him a present."
"What did you get him?" I asked.
"A great present!" said Farmer Small. " You know how he grows things in cans? I got him a greenhouse with soil pellets."
"That sounds nice, " I said. "What seeds are in there?"
"Seeds?" asked Farmer Small innocently.
"Did you tell him that it doesn't come with seeds?"
"Not yet," said Farmer Small.
Hmmm. I watched as Famer Small walked by the tomato plant in the can that the Grumpy Farmer had given him for Christmas. Nothing had sprouted yet. I suspect that it may be a long time before the Grumpy Farmer hears that his gift didn't come with seeds.
It was early morning and there was a strange noise coming from the kitchen. I got up to investigate and found the kitchen strewn with empty candy boxes, candy hearts and paper. Farmer Small was wielding a large pair of scissors.
"Farmer Small, what are you doing?"
"Celebrating Valentine's Day," he said.
"Who is your valentine?"
He gave me a look of confusion.
"You're supposed to have a valentine?"
"Most people have a special someone to celebrate with."
"Just one person?" he asked.
"Usually," I said. "Unless you are an old school Mormon."
"But I love everyone!"
That was a new and unexpected development. I decided to test it out a little.
"Do you love the Grumpy Farmer?" I asked.
"Ok," I said, "who else do you love?"
He hesitated. "Does the dog count as a valentine?"
"Of course,"I said. "Anyone else?"
"I said I love everybody!!!!" he yelled.
It could have been the candy talking. But it is possible that Farmer Small does love everybody. There is a big heart encased in his small plastic body. Happy Valentine's Day from your valentine - Farmer Small.
Farmer Small and tomatoes in a can.
I was watching the Superbowl when I heard a small voice. "Excuse me - are you busy?"
Farmer Small was sounding much more polite than usual. Something was up.
"I was watching the game, but the power is out so there's a delay. Did you need something?"
"Remember when you said I got a present from the Grumpy Farmer? "
That explained the polite inquiry. I retrieved it and placed it in front of him.
"He got me a can?"
"Not exactly. It's a tomato plant."
"In a can?" asked Farmer Small "He grows stuff in cans? That explains a lot about his garden."
He scowled as he considered the Grumpy Farmer's gift and then gave it a little kick.
"This is a dumb Christmas present."
"Maybe you should try gratitude. It's the only Christmas present you got. And you probably shouldn't have made fun of his tomatoes ."
"Fine. I'm gonna grow it!"
"You know, I said, sometimes plants in stunt packaging don't grow too well."
"I can grow anything!"
Clearly Farmer Small's confidence had not abandoned him in the New Year.
"So, when should I be expecting fresh tomatoes to eat?" I asked
"About three months."
Farmer Small shot me a look. "I'm a farmer, not a miracle worker. Maybe you should try gratitude."
Gratitude. Hmmm. Ouch.
A close inspection of the holiday photos reveals Farmer Small's hiding place among the Christmas decorations.
The holiday hubub had died down and I had just finished putting away the Christmas decorations when I realized that I hadn't seen Farmer Small for a while. I was getting worried about the little guy. Suddenly, a tiny voice drifted up from from behind the coffee maker.
"Are they gone? "
"Famer Small ! I said. "Nice to see you. Are who gone?"
"Oh" I said, our unexpected holiday guests are gone."
"Good" said Farmer Small "That means I can be done with hiding."
"Why were you hiding?"
"One of them thought I was a bug and kept trying to squish me with her cane."
"It's true that she really doesn't like bugs."
"Did I miss Christmas? he asked.
His little lip quivered.
"It was my first one inside."
"Well, I said, there was a present for you." "From you?"
"No, from the Grumpy Farmer."
"Where is it?"
"Somewhere around here - I'll find it for you."
"OK. he said "I'm still in time to celebrate New Years though - right?"
I thought about it. "Well, Farmer Small, I figure that we have 352 opportunities to celebrate the new year ahead of us."
"YEAH! We can have a party every night!"
Clearly Farmer Small's assessment is that 2013 is going to be filled with reasons to celebrate - happy new year everyone!
You can decorate anything!
I was walking through our house the other day when I noticed Farmer Small struggling wih a string of lights.
"What are you doing with those?" I asked.
"I'm getting ready to decorate our Christmas tree," he said.
"Gee," I said. "Some of my friends say Christmas is less stressful if you don't get a tree. I'm was thinking about not having a tree in the house."
"That's crazy!" he said. "It's Christmas! We should have a tree!" He shook the string of lights and glared at me.
"I'm going to decorate something." he said.
"Have at it."
A little later I heard the clack of lights being dragged across the floor, followed by a low gutteral sound. I found Farmer Small sneaking up on the sleeping dog who had opened one eye and was growling a warning at him. I scooped Farmer Small up before he became a chew toy.
"If I decorate the dog it would be awesome!" said Farmer Small. "You know, like a moving light display."
It doesn't happen often, but my friends are wrong. In my house, it's actually less stressful to have a tree. I lowered him and his lights to the table.
"Why don't we get a tree this weekend, Farmer Small."
"That sounds good."
Yes, it's that little brown dot in the left corner!
There are certain things that people associate with Maine- blueberries, lobster and
Since I am allergic to lobster, and don't like blueberries, I was looking forward to seeing a live moose. Even though I'd lived here for awhile, the only moose I had seen was stretched out on a trailer behind some hunter's truck on I-95.
A couple of weeks ago, I left my house at 5 am to drive up to Presque Isle, the other end of the state, for a meeting at 10:00. The day ran long, and I was tired while driving back at dusk. Unusual motion ahead of me caught my eye, but I didn't register what I was seeing enough to really slow the car. The moose came up quickly from the left embankment: head first, massive shoulders rising, moving into the highway, where it slowed to plod across the pavement. I hit the brakes hard, and hoped that space, time and angels were on my side.
As it went by, it didn't look like a deer or a horse, but a centaur. Once it reached the grass on the other side, it galloped up to the treeline. Finally, I thought, I've seen a moose. Or a centaur. I pulled up my phone and snapped a picture for verification. Despite the photo, I still wasn't sure. My uncertainty convinced me that I was done driving for the day and should spend the night in Bangor. So the above picture is of a moose - or of a centaur.You decide - it's all possible in the wilds of Maine.
Farmer Small hopes he uses "X" soon!
"How's learning the alphabet going, Farmer Small?" I asked.
"I'm not doing that anymore." said Farmer Small.
"Did you know that there are 26 letters in the alphabet? And some of them are extras. That's too many to learn!"
I thought about it. 26 letters could be a lot to learn if you have a little plastic brain, but I wasn't sure about the "extras."
"Really?" I asked. "There are extra letters?"
"Yes." said Farmer Small. "Do we really need the letter "C?" Don't "S" and "K" cover it?"
I hadn't really thought about it. Personally, I'm fond of the letter "C." Also, the thoughts in his little plastic brain were giving me a headache. But then, I had an idea.
"How about if you only have to learn 6 letters?"
"Maybe," he said, suspiciously, "what are they."
"That's five," he said. Are you trying to make me learn "C"?"
"No, no, forget "C." I said . The sixth letter is "X" so you can sign your name in case you win."
"Win?" asked Farmer Small. "What do I win If I learn those letters ?"
"Money." I said.
Farmer Small smiled.
"I can learn those letters!"
That's the attitude everyone should have toward learning the alphabet, or at least some of it. Good luck Farmer Small!
Vote Yes on 1. It matters to this family.
"Where are you going with that pencil, Farmer Small?" I asked.
"I'm going to vote," he said.
"I didn't know you were registered to vote."
" I did it when I was trick or treating. The lady at town hall helped me." he said.
"So why do you need the pencil?"
"The lady at town hall said I could write in anyone I want if I didn't like the choices."
"Who would you write in?"
"Me," he said, " I'm not doing much this winter so I thought I'd hold office."
I could see where that might appeal to him. The zumba classes hadn't worked out and other than tend to a few potted herbs, there wasn't a lot for him to do around the house.
"Ok," I said.
"Can you help me?" he asked.
"How do you spell Farmer Small?" he asked.
It took him a long time to work out the letters. I think I found a winter activity for Farmer Small.
"What are you doing,
Farmer Small?" I asked.
"Getting ready for Halloween tonight," he said.
"I have some bad news, Farmer Small. Halloween was last night."
"There were no trick or treaters that came to the door, and our house was dark. You're wrong!"
" Actually, Susan and I had to go out last night, so we didn't turn on the lights or give out candy."
Farmer Small's little body jerked and twisted.I think he tried to stamp his little plastic foot but I couldn't really tell because of his costume.
"You people are lousy! What is the point of living inside if you don't celebrate the holidays? Are you also skipping Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Farmer Small Appreciation Day, and Christmas? "
"Farmer Small Appreciation Day?" I asked.
"YES." he said.
"I've never heard of it," I said.
"Well, how about the rest of the holidays?" he asked.
"I promise we'll celebrate those."
"Fine." he said as he turned to leave.
"Where are you going now?
"I'm going to trick or treat anyway. I bet people will still give me candy. And if they do, I'M NOT SHARING."
Usually I'd lecture him about yelling and sharing. But honestly, I think he has a point.
Farmer Small, the Grumpy farmer and the mystery squash in happier times.
"Good news, Farmer Small! One of my friends has identified the mystery vegetable."
" Really? said Farmer Small. "What is it?
"She thinks it's a Kuri Squash."
"Is she sure?"
I thought about her report. "Well, she was drinking oat stout at the time. Nonetheless, she says it looked like your squash. It's supposed to taste like butternut squash. I was thinking of making it into a soup or maybe ravioli - you know with a nice sage - maple cream sauce. . . "
"No!" cried Farmer Small. "You can't eat it, I'm going to live in it!"
We went outside to see whether the newly identified Kuri squash was destined to be eaten or inhabited. At a distance, it looked both structurally suspect and unappetizing. When we got closer, we saw the tiny bite marks of a chipmunk and some rot. Farmer Small lost it.
"This is lousy!" he cried. "You wouldn't let me keep the golf cart from one of your friends - too expensive to maintain - or live on your window sill, or have a gun in the house and I COULD HAVE SHOT THE CHIPMUNK . . . "
Farmer Small was making some excellent points. I would have been fine with him shooting the chipmunk.
"Would you like to live inside for the rest of year? "
"With you and Susan?" he asked.
"Is the dog still going to be living inside?"
"Can I do activities?"
"What kind of activities? I asked.
"I was thinking of taking Zumba classes. A lot of people are talking about them."
Yes, they are. I see an akward conversation with Farmer Small about Zumba classes in my future.