Monday, January 16, 2012
Barefoot Garden Guy
Right now, all I have are pictures of the winter garden. In the summer, it is pretty glorious.
This neighbor grows vegetables in his front yard and sells them at a low price to all of us around here. Most people are very happy to take advantage of this fresh and tasty produce.
People unfamiliar with the Barefoot Garden Guy may think it is strange that this neighbor asks us to pay for vegetables. His prices are extremely reasonable, and everyone familiar with him is excited and glad that he has found something he is really good at (growing things) that is also not
But what could I possibly mean by that? Well, one of the things he tried in the past was collecting black widow spiders. He had a scheme for extracting their venom. He hoped to sell this venom, I think. Anyway, I often wondered what happened to the spiders he collected, and then once he told me he pulled the aquariums he kept them in out from under his bed and found them dead. !!! Later he told me he was working on growing mushrooms and he planted them in some old aquariums he had around. Mmmm. No neighbors really wanted to buy the mushrooms, and I don't think it was all because of the previous use of the aquariums.
The Barefoot Garden Guy also had a scheme to heat his homemade greenhouse with the heat generated by chicken poop under his house. For some reason he was keeping chickens under there. (Most of the houses on this street have an under the house area that is more or less a raw earth "crawl space" though you may be able to stand up all the way in some places.) He was explaining about his chicken poop/heat theory right after telling about the chinks in his floorboards. I guessed perhaps his house was not only benefitting from the heat generated below those floorboards.
Although the Barefoot Garden Guy can tell you alarming off-beat stories about frying up horned tomato worms and eating his enemy, he is overall a generous and somewhat misunderstood person. When he was a young man, people saw him walking (barefoot) in a black cape and false mustache, or in a batman costume, and he frightened them, I think. He was interested in Ninja techniques for awhile, and before the bushes and trees grew so big, I used to see him working nunchuks in his backyard or karate kicking one of those boxing bags hung from a tree. Or, I'd hear him at 2 a.m. or so because we didn't have air-conditioning back then. He also went on a soldier-commando bent for awhile running around the neighborhoo in full camo with army boots and an ax. It all had to do with his interests, as I see it. If he was interested in something, he went for it all the way.
Not to say that I was never uneasy. He was shooting arrows once and I was unconcerned until I found one gone stray into my backyard. He had a dog for years, a sign I took to be a good one--someone who keeps an animal can't be that bad, right? And just about the time I reassured myself with that thought, I saw him skinning a raccoon in his driveway. And there were times he was up on his roof with binoculars, or creeping around at night in all black, "just keeping an eye on things." Of course, those behaviors made me wonder. But I wasn't seriously worried. He has his ways. What we may think is weird makes sense to him. I mean, and this was probably 20 years ago, he came over and wanted to rake the front and back lawn for, I think, ten dollars. Now, this amount of raking is NOT a ten dollar job. Even back then it was more a forty or fifty dollar job. My husband accepted his offer, but then felt guilty and went and helped him do the front yard, told him to never mind the back, and gave him the ten bucks anyway.
I'd say about ten years ago he was in a motorcycle accident. He had to rehabilitate. He would take his habitual walk up and down the street, by gradual increments. He used a walker at first, and then a cane. We all worried about him. If his antics had scared some people, this scared us maybe more. We really don't want anything bad to happen to him. He is one of our own.