My mom and I took a road trip to Connecticut the other week. The car radio is on the fritz, so I packed a few CDs to distract her from reading every exit sign from Lock Haven to Danbury.

Along with her favorites, I brought one of mine.

I first heard “Plant the Stars” about a year ago. The lyrics talk about the moon going to work, hitching up Jupiter and Mars, and scattering sparkling seeds of light in the garden of the universe. But I didn’t catch the title, or the musician’s name. I emailed WPSU with a sketchy description of the words to the song and received a reply from Morning Edition show host Mel DeYoung . (Am I the only one who wants to call him Mel-o-Dy Young?) Mr. DeYoung told me that the mystery singer who spoke to my heart is Susan Werner; Hayseed the title of her CD. Image

I never thought I’d be singing about atrazine, alachlor, 2,4-D, paraquat, and glyphosate—but Susan’s lyrics twist and turn, and get your hands hammering on the steering wheel. Cruising down the country roads of Connecticut we rolled down the windows (the AC doesn’t work either). I let spring blow through my curls (babushka queen had hers under wrap), and the two of us belted out in twang-y harmony: “Dang, dang, hey, hey, Herbicides done made me gay.”

We were headed to my sister Lee Ann’s home for the weekend. Her husband Tim chauffeured us to the Heirloom Festival at the Comstock, Ferre & Co. seed house in Wethersfield, CT. I heard about the celebration from my long-time favorite seed catalog: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. It was a day of music, agricultural heritage, plants, and crafts.

The weekend garden odyssey continued with stops at Shakespeare’s Garden at Burr Farm in Brookfield, where we discovered the secret of how To Be a dynamic garden center…or Not To Be mundane. We also took in the New Milford Farmers Market and just outside of town, visited The Green Spot. This is a new plant-lovers paradise with a cut-your-own flower garden, stone amphitheater cooled by the churning waters of the Aspetuck River, an outdoor kitchen on a bluff above the river, and a luscious, thornless, raspberry plant that went home with me. We also played in Lee Ann’s new four-square, raised bed, vegetable garden and swam the first laps of the season in their pool.

ImageAs we made our way back to Pennsylvania, Susan’s clever lyrics, occasional Green Acres theme-song riff, and gutsy voice kept me entertained with humorous vision and touching reflection.

At first, the storyline of “Egg Money” spoke to my darker side. Now, it brings to mind my favorite sandwich at Café Lemont: egg, cream cheese, and pesto. Why didn’t I create this sandwich? At Fleur-de-Lys I always had a Cuisinart full of fresh pesto, our hens’ eggs, Paul’s home-baked bread, and kid-friendly cream cheese (still cracks me up that it is referred to as “Philadelphia “ on Parisian breakfast menus). The beauty is when you put those four together to make a sandwich: Perfection. You’ve got to try it. But do so with a song in your heart and really fresh eggs.

“Something To Be Said” is the song that echoes in my mind at 3 a.m., when sleep and logic elude me. The clever wordplay creates a bittersweet treatise on the age-old dilemma of kids leaving home to see the world. We all yearn and learn to bloom where we are planted. –Laurie Lynch

Random Roofing Notes: The roofing profession is always listed as one of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs. The company I work for is all about safety and fall protection. Our guys are serious about safe practices and often verbally rehearse among themselves what to do in various situations.

Scott, whose cubicle is behind mine, got a call to check gutter work at a Pennsylvania reptile zoo. Normally our roofers travel in pairs, but Scott was alone on this occasion, inspecting rather than doing repair work. There were three things Scott had going for him that day besides 30+ years of experience: he vacations in Florida and has been to SeaWorld Orlando; he is by nature calm and low key; and a park employee had his back.

Wouldn’t you know that the gutter Scott needed to check out was in the middle of the Aldabra giant tortoise exhibit. The necks on these critters have the girth of a football, and their “big ole hump shells” are this big around, Scott told me, stretching his muscular arms wide. But he wasn’t scared. He had seen Aldabra tortoises at SeaWorld. They weigh anywhere from 350 to 550 pounds. The tortoises are curious, and when startled, predictably unpredictable.

Native to islands in the Indian Ocean, the giant tortoises are known to knock over small trees in search of tender leaves…so what is a ladder or two?

Luckily, while Scott climbed the ladder and the zoo employee kept watch, Al and Henry, our Pennsylvania Aldabra giant tortoises, kept their distance. They ignored Scott, and, for the most part, Scott ignored them.

August in Lemont: I’ll be selling a dozen varieties of garlic at the Lemont Farmers Market Wednesdays in August (2-6 p.m.).

Written on Slate: “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storms, but to add color to my sunset sky.” –Rabindranath Tagore



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