If I had caught myself going to the garden, three hours after dark, on a night when the temperature was supposed to drop into the low 20s, nobody would have been the least bit surprised.
I love turnips and mustard greens so much that I'll try to save them from a hard freeze if I'm able.
However, on Nov. 18, just after 9 p.m., I had already stretched out in bed in pajamas when Loretta walked in and asked if I thought she ought to grab a flashlight and fetch the veggies because they were nearly sure to freeze. The outside thermometer was already down to 34 and falling fast.
It's a good 40 yards from our front porch steps to the greens and turnip patch and 20 of those yards are covered with old corn stalks, dead tomato vines and weeds that are over her head, not to mention that it was pitch-black dark.
We had already had both greens and turnips for a couple of meals and that's usually enough to satisfy my wife for the garden season. If I want any more I usually get them myself. I could not have made a trip to the garden, even in broad daylight, if my life had depended on it because this cancer treatment has me pretty much whipped.
Then, before I knew what was going on, I heard our hand-pulled garden wagon going through the yard and I stumbled to the door to see my wife, in her hooded, red, ankle length overcoat, holding the flashlight in one hand and pulling the wagon with the other as she stubbornly headed to the garden. If we hadn't just been talking about going to the garden, I would have called 911.
Even then I didn't feel plumb certain that I was not witnessing an apparition.
About 15 minutes later, she gleefully rushed back indoors dragging, what I'm guessing, was over a half bushel sack of easily the largest turnips I've ever seen grow. A few of them were double the size of regulation softballs and several others were at least as large as softballs.
I'm guessing the sack weighed over 30 pounds. It was more than I could lift to the countertop, but she managed to do so rather easily. This was followed by a feed sack crammed full of curly mustard greens.
I still have no idea what we are going to do with all this stuff but I'd be willing to bet that it all gets parceled out. We've had two more meals from this haul and I can tell you that previous hard frosts hadn't hurt the way they tasted, but that's not the end of this story.
About 10 p.m. we were both in bed, Loretta Facebooking with her iPhone and me engrossed in a Kindle novel, when she suddenly sat straight up, reached over and tapped me on the arm. "I just remembered, there's a head of cabbage out there that I was going to go back and get," she said. "Do you reckon it'll freeze?"
I told her not to worry about it, but she lay there for another 15 minutes and did just that. Before I realized what was going on, she had jumped out of bed, dashed into the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife. Still in pajamas, she had pulled on her garden boots and put the overcoat back on.
She promptly returned with a head of cabbage about the size and shape of a football that had been sliced in half around the middle and proudly brought it back to the bedroom for my inspection.
Said cabbage would never have won any ribbons at a county fair but I expect it will taste just fine at our Thanksgiving Dinner.