Field Photo 1.15.2010

Photo Courtesy Meg Richardson

Have you ever seen an herb garden? Perhaps your parents planted one in your backyard, or your grandmother had one near her house. My parents and grandparents didn't bother with herbs. They focused more on potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and corn; hearty vegetables whose plants were easy to distinguish from grass or weeds. I didn't even realize herbs were grown in gardens until I saw my first herb garden at Shakertown. I think I may have been eight. Since then, I think I've seen maybe half-a-dozen herb gardens, the majority of which were growing at historic sites or in small flower pots on porches where they were protected from foot traffic and easily accessible to kitchen cooks, dying to add rosemary and thyme to, you know, whatever.

Yesterday, Meg and I decided to walk around a structure, we were surveying, to investigate the building's rear exterior. Without thinking, we walked through the area depicted in the photograph above. Our stroll was interrupted midway by a chicken in a floral jacket waving her arms and shouting, "You're walking through MY herb garden!"

I reacted by frantically scanning the possibly affected area for A.) herbs and B.) damage. I saw neither. Apparently, Meg didn't either because we both asked where the plants were and what they were. The chicken squawked that herbs were not currently growing in her garden but they would be planted and growing soon. The chicken also confessed she felt like beating us with an organic carrot. The thought of being chased and beaten with an organic carrot only gave Meg and I something to mock and giggle about the rest of the afternoon. Thank you hysterical chicken.

After the organic carrot line, my Yankee bitch side came out. It became clear hippie chicken was catching on when she asked, while eyeing me, "how many of you are Yankees?"
Unwilling to humor someone who abused people with organic carrots I remained silent. Meg must have felt the same way because she didn't speak either. Only Hugh responded by saying, "I'm from Virginia." The hippie chicken responded with a knowing nod and a "Humph." As in, that explains it all.
Before concluding our conversation with distressed chicken, I suggested she post a sign marking the area as an herb garden to prevent future trampling. Apparently that was the wrong thing to say. "You want me to post a sign?" she asked. "I've posted a dozen signs! You know what? They all disappear! I can't keep signs in MY garden because EVERYONE wants a sign for THEIR herb gardens so they steal them."
Try as I might, I found it difficult to imagine young men or housewives, creeping into herb gardens to steal signs for entertainment or in desperation. I also tried to imagine vengeful chicken wondering the streets peering over wooden fences or around peoples' houses hoping to locate her stolen herb signs so she could beat the culprit with an organic carrot. Call me skeptical, but I just don't see it happening.
I thought about offering additional suggestions to violated chicken but abandoned the idea to thoughts of hibachi chicken and steak mixed with fried rice and non-organic vegetables. We ended our encounter with hippie chicken with excuses of wrapping up so we could break for lunch, which we did, by the way.
Moments later, while savoring my non-organic carrots smothered in teriyaki sauce I marveled at the power of imagination. I imagine myself doing many things but imagining an herb garden where there isn't one is something I have never done BUT walking through an imaginary herb garden...DONE.

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