Friday, March 20, 2009

The Ambitious Agrarian

I have a copy each of I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition by 12 Southern essayists, and John Taylor of Caroline’s Arator. Our soon-to-be 10 year old son Ethan has read neither of these books. Unlike his old man he’s not much of a reader – at least not yet. But he is a doer, a man of action. While his old man ponders agrarian ideas, Ethan is out busying himself with their realities.

Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in the Carolina Piedmont; but early evening showers were in the forecast. So, as soon as I got in from work I pulled off my dress shirt, got out the front-end tiller from the garage and broke up an area of ground off the back porch. When I finished Ethan got to work building a fence around it. You can view photographs of his project on my wife’s blog.

Ethan’s older brother is an artist and builder. He spends hours in the garage building boats – real boats that can be paddled in a pond – or wood-carving. His younger sister excels in animal care; she seems headed for a career in a veterinary office or pet grooming and boarding facility. For the longest time it was not clear what Ethan’s passion was. He has always loved to make fires (a trait he must have picked up from his ancient ancestor Old Hop). But he has emerged as a gardener, if not a full-bore farmer in the making. Last year, all three children had to maintain gardens as part of their homeschooling. David and Erin passed, but Ethan made an A+, far out-producing his siblings. He hoed and weeded and suckered and just generally messed with his plants everyday – a faithful husbandman. This year he will try to raise a little silver queen corn in addition to vegetables.

He also loves to smoke meat. That’s something else he probably has in common with John Taylor and the Agrarians.

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