27 September 2010

Backyard Gospel

Driving on Highways 33 or 26, you pass through unassuming towns like Mayville, Horicon, Juneau, and Columbus, Wisconsin. In each town, you will find at least one church on or near the main road. Most likely, you will see several. There are Catholic churches built of stone and softened by delicate stained glass. There are wood-frame protestant churches with spires that house a single, authoritative bell.

At the same time, in the same towns, you can see that house after house has a garden – nestled somewhere between the backdoor and garage, sitting like a private chapel. Some households erect altars to the heirloom tomato while others build shrines to butternut squash. But each and every one of them conveys a sense of homegrown grace.

Comparing the rituals of church and yard work may seem a stretch. But it makes sense. Gardening is equal parts labor, service, and faith. Sounds a lot like church to me.

19 September 2010

Personal Produce

This is the first in a ten(ish)-week series that will take a look at our love of gardening and getting our hands a little dirty. Remember, dear friends, you were warned that unexpected tangents may arise here on Somewhere Between.

Stick around. Relax. You might enjoy yourself.

* * *

“Where are we going for pumpkins this year?” she asked.

It’s a fair question. A fair answer might be that we could get our pumpkins from the bins in front of Home Depot or the super market.

Yeah. Right.

There is something special about the autumnal ritual of visiting an actual pumpkin patch. Many of us look forward to ambling thoughtfully among the sun-dried vines. We carefully tread across the clumpy earth and pick the right pumpkin for us.

Pumpkin hunting – often accompanied by the first appearance of hot cider and flannel – has become such a common part of fall that few people would find it particularly odd to devote an afternoon to finding the perfect gourd. You have to do it right.

14 September 2010

Cable Culture

Dexter Morgan is a man with a code. He is good with kids. He is a loyal brother and a thorough scientist. He is also a merciless serial killer. Well, near-merciless.

My wife and I recently finished watching the third season of Showtime’s hit drama, Dexter, on DVD. Dexter, and the constellation of people who occupy his cable-ready version of Miami, already has a loyal following. He probably needs very little introduction. But, for those among us who don’t follow his exploits, here is a very quick overview.

Michael C. Hall (of HBO’s equally popular Six Feet Under) plays Dexter Morgan – an endearing, hard-working, and slightly creepy forensic specialist working for the Miami Metro Police Department. As of the end of season three (we haven’t bought our copy of season four yet, so don’t ruin it) he is very recently married to his long-time girlfriend, Rita. Rita is pregnant with their baby – his first, her third. On nights and weekends, Dexter hunts and kills people. But not just any people.