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Thawing and Dripping

Illustrations by Marilynne Roach
man with fish

A city girl, I married a country boy who hunted, fished, and planted big gardens. One Friday I arrived home from work to find that our freezer had died. We were determined to save what we could. We dried and smoked smelt, made jerky, cut corn off cobs and canned it, made gallons of tomato juice, and canned smelt in tomato sauce. I turned the fruit into jams. We cut up venison and elk and canned it for stew.

By Sunday night, only the bags of trout frozen in water were left, thawing and dripping. What could we do with them?

Then I remembered from grade school when I learned that Native Americans used fish to fertilize their plants. On Monday, I arranged to take the next morning off from work. I then stopped to buy magenta petunias on my way home.

Tuesday morning, Hubba left for work, and I got busy. I dug holes along the porch and down the driveway to the road, laid a thawed trout in each hole, and planted a petunia on top, making a beautiful, welcoming arc of flowers. I changed clothes and hurried to work proud and smug. Hubba would be surprised!

We both were when we got home: our yard looked like a war zone. There were holes and dirt everywhere, along with bits of shredded petunias and fish. It was a disaster!

Hubba turned to me accusingly. “That smells like rotten fish! What did you do?”

I told him as the tears rolled.

“Didn’t you know that every dog within a mile of here would come racing to that smell?”

As I told you, I was a city girl. With a lot to learn.


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