Reliable Help in the Garden

On a recent morning Sophie & I harvested potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, apples, and winter squash.

As all things change in the autumn gardens, there is one constant…..


MayMay to the right.


MayMay to the left.

MayMay joined to Sophie’s hip.

MayMay inspecting every potato. She is everywhere we want to be!
Today, Sophie and I are off to mulch the main vegetable garden with mulch hay. At the door, ever ready is….

who else but MayMay.

Here’s to Good Neighbors, Bill and Liz!

Saturday saw us happily exploring Emily’s new world in Lewiston, Maine. This meant we were not home when a couple of men from Taylor Farm came up to deliver the 100 bales of mulch hay I asked to have delivered.

If you have read this blog for long, you already know how passionate I feel about mulch. This 100 bales of hay was already earmarked for the garden where Sophie and I had harvested the Red Shiso.

Anyways, Saturday was about the only day since the beginning of June that I wasn’t here to direct a delivery of mulch to the usual spot. The particular Taylors that came to deliver the bales hadn’t left mulch hay here before. It’s usually been Bill Taylor or one of his brothers that delivers. This time, the hay got stacked four bales high in a neat square on top of my new asparagus bed. Asparagus needs mulch. Doesn’t everything? But not that much! Reluctantly, I called Bill on Sunday morning to tell him that the hay wasn’t in the normal place.

He was astoundingly nice about it and came right up with his front loader to move the bales. Jim, aka project man, got down from the roof where he was cleaning our chimney and helped Bill move the pile. The transfer went quickly, thanks to ever cheerful, easy going Bill’s skill with his front loader. Soon half the hay bales were on the main vegetable garden for Sophie and me to spread this week and the other half were stacked nearby.

Then Bill did something that made me weep with gratitude. He turned my compost piles with his front loader.

I have known Bill and Liz, his darling wife, for thirty years. This means I met them when Bill was a tow-headed ten year old and Liz was the nine year old girl growing up across the street from Taylor Farm. Folks in town were always saying they couldn’t tell Bill and his brother Jim apart, but they didn’t have the same face at all and I never got why people said that. Perhaps it was just that the Taylor boys were ever on the go and all people saw of them was the flash of their blonde heads as they did the millions of jobs sons on a dairy farm traditionally do; haying, haying, and more haying.

We didn’t see much of Bill and Liz during their teenage years though we did have the occasional flash of a blonde head as Bill hayed our seven acre hay field. Then we heard that Bill was out of college and planning to keep Taylor Farm going with his dad and his brother Jim. Next, we were delighted to learn that Liz and Bill were getting married. We were so happy to be invited to the wedding.

It was one of my favorite weddings ever. The minister, our good neighbor Malcolm Grobe, had been Liz and Bill’s fifth grade teacher. He had wonderful funny anecdotes about Liz and Bill to share, but beyond this humor, his words had a quality of resonance and heart reflecting all his years knowing and loving Liz and Bill and their families. At the wedding, most everyone knew both the groom’s and the bride’s sides of the family because so many of us were from Meriden. This added to the timeless, deeply grounded feeling of the ceremony. The day was a sleepy hot summer day and Liz looked so beautiful. Everyone, including the bride and groom, walked from the church service to the reception down Main Street. It was everything I liked about living in a small town.

Liz and Bill’s first child was born the same year as our Will and the two boys have been friends for all these years. Liz and Bill built a house on our road and part of Taylor Farm moved to their backyard. Will and Jeffrey have a trail between our houses that runs by the Taylor’s lovely swimming pond. The trail gets more and more traffic as the boys get older.

When Jeffrey and Will were babies, I was lucky enough to have Liz work part time at Green Hope Farm. Reminders of her sparkling presence still fill our office. From here Liz went to work for her dad in the family smokehouse. Just this year Liz and Bill have bought the smokehouse ( from Liz’s family. They now sell their smoked cheese, smoked bacon, smoked hams, and Taylor Brother’s Maple Syrup at local stores, farmstands, farmer’s markets, from their shop in Meriden village, and on the internet. Nowadays, when Liz and I watch our boys play soccer, we often talk about things like snafus with UPS and the grace of a good staff.

So yesterday when Bill graciously moved the hay, he was already a much appreciated fixture in our lives. But after he organized my messy piles of compost into two extraordinarily well turned piles, I revered him as an immortal. How deft he was with that front loader. I do not exaggerate when I say it brought tears to my eye when I thought of how much time he had saved me and my silly little pitchfork. These may not be the most exciting photos ever on this blog, but in all seriousness, even thinking about these piles brings more tears of joy and gratitude! Thank you so much Bill! And I’ll see you later today Liz at the boys’ soccer game!


This pile is compost from this last year, turned vigorously by Bill, inspected equally vigorously by Riley and MayMay.

The is the cheesecake shot of MayMay my more composted compost, soil worth its weight in gold and ready for me to put on the gardens now and next spring. Be still my heart!