Gift Exchange–From April 2009

A. V. Walters

The other day Elmer and I had an impromptu, unofficial gift exchange. In a conversation one evening about wine, I mentioned that I had a gizmo that pumped the air out of leftover wine to slow the oxidation process. (In Sonoma County, even farmers have regular conversations about wine.) He was intrigued. We both like good wines. This was a solution to a problem for him–he’d noticed the deterioration in a bottle of wine over the few days it took him to finish one off. We joked that it was an excuse to chug it down, but that takes its toll, too. So I told him about the pump.

The next day I was in town and happened by a kitchen store. I knew Elmer wouldn’t follow through on the “Vaccu-vin” tip, so I picked one up for him. When I pulled into the farm I saw him in the parking lot. I tossed it to him, told him it was a present. He wanted to pay for it, but that wasn’t the point. It wasn’t expensive, just something I knew he’d like. He thanked me.

Then he laughed and looked at his feet. He said, “There’s something for you, too, up in the garden.” And, that’s all he’d say.

I walked up to the garden, and there, next to the potato bins were four, five-gallon buckets of sheep manure. I laughed so loudly that they could hear me down in the parking lot. I thought it was a fair exchange. I spent a good part of the next weekend digging it in where needed. From me and my city world to Elmer, from him and his farm world to me. I know why he laughed and looked at his feet; we’re both laughing. It is how the world levels out though, evenly and gently in the end.

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