Potato Portal


Eyes opened the portal.  Potato eyes, tuberous knots protruding from brown skin.  I gripped the sharp knife blade, slicing it into potato flesh, carving around eyes and I could hear his voice, a sound long buried in deep memory recesses.  “Be careful not to cut through the eyes,” my paternal grandfather said, as he instructed me to correctly cut a seed potato, leaving enough flesh to sustain a growing plant.  I watched his blade as he deftly cut the seed, leaving three pieces which would each form a potato plant that would produce numerous underground tubers.


Purple Majesty Seed Potatoes, prepped

I was about eight years old when my family allowed me to wield my own sharp knife and join them in my grandparents’ kitchen where baskets of seed potatoes waited to be processed into hundreds of individual seed pieces, each sporting at least one or two eyes.  My grandfather, Lawrence Hamby, was usually a man of few words, but as he watched me work, he tipped back his ladder back chair, painted green, and told me a story. 

I was not much older than you, he began, pointing his knife in my direction, when my daddy sent me to take something to the barn.  It was just about suppertime and I closed that gate and started back to the house.  Must have heard something in the grass behind me and when I looked over my shoulder, I saw the biggest snake I had ever seen in my life.  Well, I started to run and looked back to see if he was still there.  Oh, boy, he was and he was chasing me!  Scared to death, I ran faster.  It was a black racer, fast and not poisonous, but looked like he wanted to eat me up!  I looked back and that snake was still coming after me and getting closer!  I ran ‘til I couldn’t run no more.  With the last breath I had in my body, I turned around, threw my arms up over my head and screamed at that snake for all I was worth.  Well, don’t you know?  That ole snake stopped dead and looked at me and then turned around and took off in the other direction!

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