Monday, October 25, 2010

{Digging Potatoes}

Well, we must really live in Idaho, because today I went out and dug up potatoes. This was a first for me, and I actually enjoyed being out in the co-op garden, alone in the sun and breeze, just me and my thoughts.

One thing about potato digging though: it is HARD work. When I left the garden with my little bucket of taters, I was covered in dirt and ready for a forty-year nap. I like picking lettuce, or tomatoes, or squash. I like picking berries or pulling beans. These things are easy work--you use your eyes, pull the prettiest, plumpest fruit, and stay relatively clean. Potatoes are different.

I don't know anything about potato growing other than what we've been told by some Idaho folk and what we've managed this season, but here's what I've got so far--when you plant potatoes, you plant them in mounds. (And here in the high desert, in our poorly funded student co-op garden, that mostly means planting them in a bed of sandy, rocky, dirt.) And then you let them grow. For the most part, you just kind of leave them alone. And then you wait. You wait until they shrivel up and die and you think the rot and the bugs are just around the corner and you're pretty sure you messed up and that God shouldn't trust you to tend to things when He's better at it anyway.

And then you stick your hands in that dry, rocky, hard-as-can-be dirt, you push aside the old dead plant, and you start digging for the roots.

Potatoes can grow deep, well below the mound you made for them, deeper into that thick, dense, desert sand. If you're lucky, and if you dig deep enough, you'll dig up some beautiful gems--small ones, big ones, all under that rotten, rocky mess, emerging a few at a time as proof that there is something bigger than you at work under the soil.

The Mister and I are often described as "poor as church mice." My father has used that phrase on us a few times, and our church leaders too. When we started this journey, we knew it wouldn't be easy. And to be honest, sometimes it is a little staggering to think of how far we still have to go. At times, it's easy to think of what we've given up, of the things (all that old STUFF) we could have if we were living the same lives we decided to abandon. If we let ourselves, it would be easy, after a long week of endless studying for him and nearly-single-parenting for me, to look at our lives and see the shriveled up plant of what we used to have. It would be easy to forget that we were led here and that there are greater forces at work. The trick is remembering that we're still digging; we're still reaching for what comes out of that pile of dirt and dead.

So we keep digging our potatoes. We may come out dirty as hell. We'll be tired and our muscles will ache, but after the ache we'll be stronger for our efforts. We'll have grime under our fingernails and dents in our knees from the rocks we knelt on, but we'll have what we came for. We'll leave behind a pile of rubble, but we'll know the love of God and hold it right in the palm of our grungy, weathered hands.



  1. Great post, Kierra. Your best yet!

  2. mee too, sista, me too! Much love and support for continued digging!

  3. Eloquent and profound. You never cease to amaze me!

  4. Hi, your Mom put me on to your blog. About digging spuds....Use a full sized shovel next time. Did I ever tell you I never met a potato I didn't like. Any way they fix one I'm on board. An old neighbor.


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