Sow There! Changes: unexpected, planned and seasonal June 2, 2017

Photo by Jack Hacking, Heather’s Dad
Heather Hacking — Enterprise-Record

Last Thanksgiving, my friend Kara and I drove north from my aunt’s house in the Bay Area. The drive was at night, about three weeks after my Handsome Woodsman died in a car crash.

A lot has happened since then, but that day I was putting one foot in front of the other.

I knew when I walked in the door to my home, I would find only the broken pieces.

“It must be weird,” Kara said, her face barely visible in the intermittent glow of headlights along Highway 99.

“You’re going to have a lot of changes.”

Kara has a comforting way of saying a lot with just a few words, then leaving room for me to fill the quiet.

Dave had just died. She knew I had been taking classes to someday become a teacher.

“You won’t be working at the newspaper anymore,” she said as we continued through the dark countryside.

“Everything is going to change,” I said.

That moment is still vivid — the cool of the car windows, the smell of farm land, feeling like a tourist in familiar surroundings, trust that whatever came next was in God’s hands.

Here we are six months later and change is here.

June 10 is my last day at the office where I have worked for more than half my life.

I’m thankful I will continue to write this Friday column, which lets me play with words and focus on things that bring me the most joy.

In August I’ll start the year-long teaching credential program at Chico State University and transform into “Miss Hacking,” an elementary school teacher. I don’t know whether I’ll squeeze the rubber chicken into the curriculum, but I’m confident there will be a place on the classroom windowsill for a few seedlings.

So many words should be said about my kind, hard-working coworkers, who have been my newspaper family for 25 years. I’ll also miss feeling close to my community, telling people’s stories. There is not enough ink in the pressroom to explain how strange it feels to be leaving the center of the newsroom.

Yet, this new path feels right. I’ll share stories in a new way to a much younger audience.

When I think back to that night in the car with Kara, today seemed so far away. The only certainty I had then, and the only certainty I have now, is that everything is going to change.


Sunday my friend Anina sent a text to say she was on her way to pick me up for an adventure. When I heard her car, I was standing over some faded plants, rolling my hands back and forth like I was molding clay.

“Decided to pull some weeds, eh?” she asked as I plunked into the passenger seat.

“No,” I said. “I was smashing bugs. Didn’t you hear me growling?”

You’ve all heard of “hand-picking” bugs from plants. I don’t know how others perform this task. Maybe they use chopsticks to gingerly deliver cabbage worms to a tall champagne glass filled with soapy designer dish soap.

I only had a few minutes before my ride arrived, and what I saw required primal mode. I would have needed my old-lady magnifying glasses to estimate the number of gray, gluttonous baby bugs on each stalk of kale.

Some garden books suggest using a high pressure hose to whisk those critters away.

Whisk them where? Into the nearby squash plants? Why give the critters a free waterslide to the next feast?

So much more efficient to grab handfuls of bug colonies and them into death like an Italian grandmother making ziti for her 14 cousins. I did not pause to think about how much bug guts became mixed in with green plant goo. I used that high pressure hose to zap my hands to avoid staining the interior of Anina’s car.

With the frenzy of it all, several of those plants were uprooted, which means the end of the cool season garden has officially arrived. The thing about bugs is that they seem to get to their most critical mass right about the time the plant is on its way out. It’s nature’s way of telling you to head to the Wednesday morning farmer’s market and buy hot peppers at the GrubGrown plant cart.

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