NORMAN — Fall vegetable gardens used to be gathered by the family.
“It must be done today,” a grandfather phones his children. “It’s going to rain buckets. It’ll be too muddy to get in the gardens, and those potatoes will rot in the ground.”
Plans get canceled and winter potatoes get dug in a day.
“How do I do this?” a grandchild says, anxious to help.
“Take this pitchfork and dig underneath the potato plant,” grandfather says. “Remember, the potatoes hang on the roots. You need to dig deep enough not to ruin them with the pitchfork. Turn the whole thing over and pick off the potatoes.”
Once potatoes were stored for winter, everyone could relax. Until they needed to gather winter onions, tie them and hang them up to dry.
These days, most folks don’t need to harvest, leaving time to update finances, closets and fun.
“What did we do at the beach last summer to get this much on our credit card?” Lenny says. “Perhaps I should let you write these checks, saving my blood pressure.”
“You do it,” his wife responds. “It wasn’t me who insisted we stay at the best inn we could find.”
“You took our daughter shopping and bought every beach garb in sight.”
“You told us to get what we needed.”
“But stuff’s more expensive at the shore.”
“Such as fishing lures, fishing hat, license and a boat rental?”
Husband writes the check.
“Minimum now,” he says. “We can argue about it later.”
Some find beach time expensive in another way.
Julie stares at herself in the mirror. “This is a size larger than I wore last year, and I still can’t fit in it.”
She tries another, modeling it for her friend.
“What do you think? Is this too tight?”
Wanda motions for her to turn around.
“Well, it’s flattering,” she says. “You could let out a seam or two.”
Feeling “betrayed,” Julia exits the dressing room without new clothes.
Wanda says, “What happened?”
“How these clothes lie!” Julie says. “They make me look larger than I am. Let’s go eat hamburgers. I’m starved.”
Others celebrate good times.
“Let’s hold a cookout, now that the weather’s nice,” Scot suggests.
“Sure,” his practical wife agrees. “We can invite those who entertained us lately.”
The evening comes and vacation stories emerge.
“Let me show you this.” One guest passes around his picture holding a string of fish.
“How much did those few fish cost you?” someone jokes.
One lady whirls around, showing off a new dress.
“I guess you see what I did after the summer,” she gloats.
Her husband comments, “It wasn’t from mowing the lawn. I would remember that.”
Some celebrate fall colors by raking red and gold leaves into piles and letting the kids have fun jumping in them.
“Lance! What are you doing? I thought you were raking leaves. They’re all over the yard again.”
As all wives know, it isn’t only kids who love jumping into a pile of fall leaves.
Shirley Ramsey, a retired professor of journalism, lives in Norman.