June 5, 2010

Beth Eisen

We lost our dear friend Beth on Sunday, May 31st. She lost a battle with cancer that began almost a year ago to the day. Beth was an extremely gifted person -- a gifted artist, writer, knitter, community organizer and developer, the list goes on and on. But she was also a prolific gifter, a testiment to her tremendous generosity of spirit and thoughtfulness. After her death, I walked in stunned silence through our house and found her presence everywhere I looked -- on our bookshelf, in the kitchen, in my cookbooks, my closet and even the little toys that Kerstin placed on the door frames and sills of our home. Beth often gave us little gifts when we'd get together, always lovingly presented with the I-saw-this-the-other-day-and-thought-of-you sentiment. It amazes me to this day how much she thought and cared about others. But there was one gift that stood out among the others. Three years ago, after we closed on our home, Beth appeared on Karen's doorstep with a brown paper bag.
"Potatoes for your new garden!" she proclaimed.
They were beautiful and smooth, all blue and gold, fresh from the Fedco Sale.
"I don't know what varieties they are," Beth went on to say "but I saw them and I thought you guys would enjoy them."
So we planted them in our new garden and watched them grow large and deep green, then dug up bushel after bushel of warm spuds in the late summer. These potatoes have fed our family for the past three years, as we've been reserving a few and re-planting them in the spring. Last year, they blackened and wilted under the scourge of the late blight outbreak and we decided to eat our entire harvest and plant new varieties this year to break the cycle of the oomycete pest. This spring, we tilled as normal, hilled our rows, set down row covers and weed blocks and planted peppers and beans in that area of the garden. Last Saturday, the day before Beth passed away, I was rooting around in the garden when I came across a large bulge under the row cover next to one of the newly-transplanted peppers. I unpinned the cover and found a beautiful, perfectly-formed blue potato sprout, emerging green and purple, graceful and defiant. Somehow this potato survived the blight, the winter, the rototiller and the hoe. This was Beth's potato, her generosity and spirit endured every hardship.

We transplanted Beth's potato to it's own private plot in a little corner of our yard. We will let it grow this year into next, for as long as it will in the years to come.

1 comment:

kay said...

So sorry to hear about the death of your friend. Hope all of you are doing OK through the sadness. Sounds like you have lots of things in and out of your house that will remind you of her in the years to come and that's how she will live on. Be well, love, AK