Planting Fall Turnips

Having tilled, sighted along the hoe handle, laid it down, stepped on it, I move it toward the farther stake, step on it again. And having grooved the line, I work slowly, hard, dark mites of turnip seed metering out carefully between two fingers. But now the sowbugs come, disturbed from some dirt tunnel by my cultivation, racing one by one up the Lilliputian freeway of my furrow, like small gray buses. I gently flick each one out. They careen. Tiny legs flail the air. I have to give each a leaf or crumb of soil to grip and right itself, then find my place again. And if a few weeks hence the row has gaps, it will have been the sowbugs, whose emergencies had made me feel parental. Then I'll have to say, here is a man turned aside from his purpose by the miniature isopods of distraction - well, they were charming, and a machine might have made all even but crushed them as it went.

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