In my travels to and from different National Wildlife Refuge volunteer assignments, I’ve met some very interesting people along the way. These aren’t fellow RVers or bloggers that I’ve met, but local citizens. I especially remember Pearl, and his topiary garden, and the man who has since died that built all those fantastic whirligigs in South Carolina, and the lady that grew hydroponic tomatoes whose son gave me a personal Blue Grass concert. Then there was the lady that made leaded glass creations in a little shed behind her house in rural Tennessee, and kept peacocks and fancy chickens as pets. And Loretta Lynn’s cousin that found us lost and gave us a personal tour up Butcher Holler. This list goes on and on…
Well, I’m here tonight to tell you about a local Minnesota man that ranks up with those others as most interesting to me. Some people might call him a real character. Please meet Mr. Smith:
I met Mr. Smith about six weeks ago when I saw a hand painted sign along the road advertising homegrown vegetables. As I pulled down the driveway to his house in between the corn and soybean fields, I had to dodge a fat little pony that was staked out as his lawn mower.
I took this picture of him today, but could have just as well have taken it six weeks ago. His attire always remains the same: scrubby velour sweatpants and worn out green Crocs. That’s it no matter what the weather. Music and farm reports blast from a radio on his deck as you approach. And then there’s that wild shock of white hair standing at attention. He comes down to greet you as you drive up.
I stop there weekly for a fresh supply of tomatoes from his 150 plants. He doesn’t pre-pick anything. When you tell him what you want, be prepared to march down to one of his gardens to fresh pick your vegetables. Of course, also be ready for some great stories about the trials and tribulations of growing these vegetables during a late spring and hot August with no rain. What a hoot!
It’s a pleasant trip back to his garden, and along the way you’ll learn more than you want to know about male and female flowers on cucumber plants. There’s also the saga of the Bell peppers, giant sweet onions, and raspberries. I brought fellow volunteer Steve along with me for a visit one time before he left, and we were allowed to eat one raspberry going into the garden, and one coming out. Delicious! We couldn’t buy any of them though because they were all promised to someone else.
Mr. Smith also has some cherry and apple trees that you travel through to get to the garden. My purchases today included five big tomatoes, eight apples, and three Bell peppers for a total of $6.00. I’m never quite sure what the bill will be. After we gather what I want into a bag each time, Mr. S. peers into the bag and comes up with a price. Of course, he said I owed him $600, but if the phone rings during a transaction, he also says, “Hang on, I’ll be back in a couple of hours.” Yep, he’s a gem. Another one of those interesting people I’ve met along the way…
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy