Fall Potato Picking Down Back

Maine is famous for potatoes with huge fields that go for miles. During early fall Down Back at the old swimming hole in Derby, Maine, some of us youngsters would fix baked potato wrapped in tin foil slow cooked over an outdoor fire.

On one potato picking excursion a friend and I took a burlap sack, navigated a cedar log raft downstream about a half mile, and then tied up at the opposite shore. Next, we hiked 50 feet through some brush and trees, and made our way up a 15 foot bank to the edge of a potato field.

Potato plants grow low to the ground, so we crawled to avoid attention. That lasted about 10 minutes as we heard a shout and saw a farmer running our way. We grabbed the burlap sack between us because 50 pounds was too heavy for just one, and then we headed for the embankment discussing strategy on the way. It was agreed we’d toss the bag on the forward swing at the count of 3 just before the edge, and then jump the 15 feet to the bottom. He let go on 2.

I went flying over the embankment like a ribbon tied to a rock while still clinging to the burlap sack. My friend landed on his feet while I took a bruising. Unshaken we grabbed the sack, ran through the brush, and boarded the raft. We had a 1000 foot head start on the farmer, so we were poling up river and out of site in no time.

Later on as we were enjoying our baked potato around the campfire I offered lessons on counting to 3. That boy grew up to be an accountant. I swear.

Jim's handwritten signature


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