More bits and pieces

Susan Manzke

Today was a wonderful fall day on Sunnybook Farm. A frosty morning led to sunshine and temps near 70. I should have been writing this column, but instead, I was putzing outside.

I thought it a good time to dig up my canna lilies. The rhizomes came from my friend, Mary, last fall. All she told me was to plant them in the spring and dig them up in the fall. So after my tulips were done, I added the cannas to my big tractor tire flower bed where they grew and flowered.

The trouble came when I went to dig them up. I had only planted three smallish rhizomes and expected a few additional ones. To my surprise, they had multiplied tenfold. There were huge ones and baby ones. Some had grown under the sidewall and were almost impossible to remove without destroying them.

I dug with a shovel and then with my hands, finally removing a box full of cannas. These will not return to that flower bed in the spring. I have another place in mind — a holey water tank where they won’t disappear under a sidewall on me.

Meanwhile, Bob was in the kitchen slicing apples for our dehydrator. Our own apple trees got frosted last spring. We had to buy someone else’s homegrown apples. Bob enjoys this chore. He isn’t much of a cook, but he’s much better with the slicer than I am. In the end, he has all his fingers intact.

When finished, Bob came out to assist me.

“No one told me that these things multiplied like mice in a corn crib,” I complained.

Bob said he knew all about cannas. “My grandfather loved them, so we had to plant them every year on the farm.” I would have tapped into his canna lily knowledge if I had known.

Not long ago, I lost a good friend and writing buddy, Rita Volkman. In her honor today, I’d like to share one of her family stories.

A Victory Garden Capsule by Rita Volkman

On a balmy spring day in WWII, Dad cultivated a plot of dark loam in our backyard for a Victory Garden. My sister, Phyllis, and I felt so grown-up as we raked the lumpy soil smooth. Dad sawed a bundle of lathes for markers and kidded, "Imagine the sticks are guards watching our garden grow."

I raced to the house and told Mom about our pretend soldiers. She chuckled. "Let Dad mark the rows. I'm sure you girls can plant the beans and peas." She held her thumb and first finger an inch and a half apart as she explained how to space the seed.

"We know!" I boasted. I grabbed a package from the porch steps and whizzed back to the garden. Phyllis planted the seed from one bottle; I arranged nuggets from another.

Gathered around the kitchen table for supper that night, our family said grace, Dad adding a prayer for the boys in service. Mom looked pale, "Please bring me the aspirins and vitamins that I bought in town today. I left them on the steps by the seeds."

With an uneasy feeling, I brought Mom the package. She opened the sack. Seed packages of carrots, lettuce, radishes, peas and beans flopped to the table.

Dad and Mom stared at the seeds. Suddenly laughter filled the room. Mom's headache disappeared.

Thanks for the laugh, Rita. You’ll be missed.

FYI: Come and meet me and Bob at The Gathering Place, 715 Campus St, Milton, WI 53563, Oct. 27 at 1:30. This free presentation will be my program, Another Time, Another Life. In it, I depict life during the Fur Trade Era. I’ll also bring along books for sale, just in case.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;

Bob slices apples