Stories from a Farm in the Middle of Nowhere

Fifty years ago, my parents purchased a farm on a busy country road. They needed more space to grow tomatoes. Later, they turned the farm into a plant nursery. Now, in the middle of nowhere there’s not much in the way of entertainment. So early on my parents decided they needed to find a new hobby. After much deliberation, they came up with . . . arguing. Over the years, they’ve really perfected it. One day—I don’t know, 30 years ago?—my dad had a brilliant idea.

He said, “I have a brilliant idea. Let’s put a garden all the way along the road in front of the nursery. It will be magnificent! Isn’t it BRILLIANT?”

No, my mother didn’t think it was brilliant. “First, we’ll lose half of our parking,” she said. “Second, it’s too dangerous to put a garden that close to a busy road”

For 10 years, they went back and forth. Magnificent—too dangerous! Over dinner, on long car rides. Then, one day Mom left for a week-long conference. Turns out that’s just enough time to . . . build a garden by the side of the road. Not just any garden, a huge, magnificent garden 25 feet wide and 125 feet long. But that’s not the story.

Shortly after installation on a hot, Sunday afternoon in August, Mom was watering in the back. It was very quiet as there are few customers that time of year. Suddenly she heard honking from the front of the nursery. Someone was yelling. Quickly she put down her hose and walked toward the front, between the two apple trees. Just off the road, a car had pulled in and a man was standing with his door open leaning into the car honking his horn.

When the guy saw my mother, he pointed. And there, lying face up in the middle of the road was my father. His hat had been knocked off. He was holding a hoe. He was not moving. He was dead. My mom stepped back, her head swirled, her knees buckled and she slid to the ground.

On closer inspection, he was not dead. He was unconscious and bleeding. Someone called 911 and the volunteer ambulance crew took my parents to Albany Medical Center, 40 minutes away. In the ER, a young intern attempted to attend to his injuries. He asked my mom what had happened. She said she didn’t know. “We just found him lying in the middle of the road.”

When my dad came to he said, “My back, my back,” and he gestured to his right side.

“Okay, sir,” the intern said, “I’ll take a look.” When the intern turned my dad over, he gasped, “This man has been stabbed in the buttocks!”

He looked at my mother accusingly. Could this woman have stabbed her husband and then thrown him out the window into the street? She was at least 60. It seemed unlikely.

Eventually, the mystery was solved. Dad had been weeding the garden by the road with a very sharp knife. He had put the sharp knife in his back pocket and promptly fainted—stabbing himself in the ass!  The hospital performed 48 hours’ worth of tests.

“It’s weird,” my mom said. “They say there is nothing wrong with him.”

So, they sent him home. I called a couple of days later. He was in a very bad mood. He had two staples in his ass and he couldn’t sit down. And the state of New York had taken away his license. But the real reason, the real reason he was so sour was . . . he had proven my mother right. It was too dangerous to put a garden that close to the road even in the middle of nowhere.

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Alexis Steinkamp
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