I traded homegrown green beans today for two pairs of earrings and a small outdoor turquoise table, traded with my neighbor R. who does hauling for a living and drags all his treasures to the parking strip once a month and sells stuff. He never lets me pay.
Besides finding the occasional curiosity, when I see his sign out on the corner, I know it's time for some neighborly conversation, so I walked down there this afternoon, pulled up a chair, and hung out.
There was an exterior door that looked promising, but he said it was an odd size. Too tall. I fiddled with a Makita drill — mine has suddenly given up the ghost. Oh, it's only probably 25 years old. There are three parts that can go bad: the drill itself, the battery, and the battery charger, and there was a good chance that this drill was in the sell-pile for the same reason mine is in the doesn't-work pile. I passed on the drill. His wife C. came out and offered me a pair of cowboy boots, but they were too big. Some leather Coach handbags appeared: not enough pockets.
I thumbed through a few books ("Russian Tea House Cookbook"). We discussed whether or not a wooden box was an old ammunition box, decided that it was more likely used to transport rifles. A conjoined pair of old school desks sat unsat-in on the grass. A green-painted hoe leaned against the hedge. There was much more to see, but I made myself stop. If anything comes into my house, something has to go out.
After delivering the sack of beans, I went back home to read, and from my skin rose the scent of tomatoes and dill. The garden is a little out of hand, things growing across the narrow paths into other things. I've let a few tomato plants sprawl out, and they've taken their liberties seriously: ripe red nubs poke out from between the variegated pinks of cosmos', and between bush beans, and from under the fan-like zucchini leaves which are fading with the usual late season mildew.
Gardening is, for me, about so much more than just the harvest. When the season is finished, and I'm driven indoors as the rains start up again and the temperature plummets, I'll miss these floating scents that stay with me after my daily vegetal rummage. Not that I want dill perfume, or tomato cologne, mind you. Perhaps just a hint, to remind me of these sun-woozy afternoons of early September, when tomatoes hung thick and heavy from the vine, everywhere in the garden.