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Author: Jeff Tilden

Of Apples and Obsessions

IT WAS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. I was riding my bicycle on one of those roads that crisscrosses Iowa with a checkerboard-like perpendicularity, cutting straight paths through the fields of corn. They have an almost tunnel-like feel to them at the end of the growing season, as the crops on either side of the road block one’s view in any direction other than straight ahead.  Periodically, the view would widen as I passed the home of the farmer who tended these fields and I could see the place he called home. I enjoyed seeing places, homesteads, that...

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A Yard Is Not a Yard

“I DON’T WANT TO BREAK A NAIL” It was the second time she had said it. “I don’t want to break a nail”…a phobia that was going to keep her from having a garden. This fear, this “fear of gardening” has kept many human beings from enjoying the beauty of life in a garden. It is time to eradicate hortiphobia from America, along with its attendant fears—dirty knees, dirty hands, fresh air, the dreadful sound of birds singing, flowers blooming and, of course, broken nails. Why is it that we so detest gardenwork? I believe that it is not...

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A Most Amicable Transplant

FRENCH CARS. That’s right. Peugeots and Citroens and Renaults and Simcas. Cars that Americans have occasionally purchased and then had stories to pass on to succeeding generations. Names that live in American automotive infamy, these Gallic conveyances have more tales of wheel-borne woe than any sane person could forgive. But like a parent with  “Not MY child” syndrome, I love them. The style, the oddness, the idiosyncrasies… Driving through the American South, I will occasionally see a static example of the French automotive expression. Maybe halfway to Charleston, while taking the back way, I would see a Le Car or...

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Seeds for Success

DON’T BUY THAT PLANT!  I see it in your shopping cart and I can foresee an unhappy ending. Just the way I feel when I see some college kids ordering another round of “Fireball” shots. It just doesn’t usually end well. Just why would it be a bad idea to buy a nice big foxglove? Because you will forget to water it on one warm day and it will look like the Wicked Witch of the West after her bath, a shriveled and pitiful little pile of fuzzy foliage. Dang! And even if you don’t forget to water it,...

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