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By Paul Bendix

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About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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The Loss of Mr. Potato Head

Uploaded: Feb 17, 2015
Last month, something possessed me to plant potatoes with my widowed neighbor and her precocious two-year-old. Perhaps I needed to witness things budding, to reaffirm nature's power of regeneration. I still feel the loss of our next-door neighbor, killed on his way to work.

The three of us, each armed with a trowel, set about burying seed potatoes. I don't have the neuromuscular wherewithal to do this quickly. My neighbor's little girl doesn't have the attention span. So, you guessed it, the mom did most of the planting.

Soon, I did all the worrying.

Where were the sprouting potatoes...green life's hope for the bereft? We had planted them weeks ago. Did I do something wrong? Had they rotted?

At last, there it was, a single green shoot, Then some leaves. In a garden overrun with nasturtiums, I should have known better. I even stopped my neighbor and showed her the sprout. A potato, I assured her. Never mind that it had the round, thin leaves of a nasturtium. I needed it to be a potato.

A week later when the real plants burst through the surface, the difference was clear. The stems were darker, the leaves more wrinkled. I pulled up the lone nasturtium.

Maybe this happens when you're 68. A young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love?and Tennyson should have added...an old man's turns to thoughts of seed potatoes. The reasons are easy to see, and hard to face.

There will come a spring when the potatoes don't come up. Because, to speak plainly, what's planted is me. It's not a comforting thought, but a sobering one. Sober is good. I can take comfort in that.

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Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Stu Soffer, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Feb 19, 2015 at 10:07 am

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

Paul, I was enticed by the caption. Who doesn't like Mr. Potato Head?


I was expecting to read about sticking plastic ears, nose and mouth in a potato.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Potatoe Head, a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres,
on Feb 25, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Or about Reggie Williams (for you gsom'ers out there, who were there in some of the dark times.)

Go Dubs!

---------

hint: Always plant potatoes in a bin or pot, to keep control of them. If you have sandy soil, they will take over.

---------

Lastly: where's the 'E'?

(-in honor of the VP who put the E back in gaffe.)


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