It Sure Is Quiet Around Here

January 3, 2022

You can get a lot of thinking done when it’s quiet.

Our power was out for nearly five days last week, the result of a heavy, wet snow that blanketed a big chunk of Virginia and knocked out nearly everyone’s power.

Our not-quite-but-nearly-five-day power outage is not the reason I have been quiet on here for two months now. I have no good reason for that to be honest. Things.

Yeh, it’s pretty … until the power goes out.

But, those powerless days last week were, in their way, quiet.

Although, to be honest, they weren’t completely powerless and they weren’t exactly quiet.

We are extraordinarily lucky to have a generator that feeds the house in times of power outages. But, we felt it necessary to conserve its slowly dwindling tank of fuel, as we worried that it wouldn’t last as long as the outage would, which meant turning the thermostat extremely low – (extremely low by my standards, as I am hothouse orchid) – using lights sparingly, hot water even less, and the oven not at all.

(The fuel ultimately outlasted the outage.)

Despite the constant noise of the generator – which falls somewhere between the hum of a lawnmower and a DC-10 – it still seemed quiet.

Which is sort of how baseball has felt, what with it being the off season or, to be more precise the off-off season – an off season layered with an MLB lockout where the warring parties … owners and players … have also been eerily quiet of late in their disagreement and unhappiness.

All this quiet, has made me think, not of baseball games from long ago, but of potatoes.

Let me preface this by saying that potatoes should be their own food group. They get a bad rap for their starchiness and the crazy things they can do to a person’s insulin levels. But, dear readers, one unskinned potato can also provide nearly half of your vitamin C and B6 for the day and has more potassium than a banana. Also calcium, magnesium, and folate. Can your broccoli do that? No. No it cannot.

Photo: by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Oh. My. God.

So anyway, the quiet has made me think of potatoes.

And, here’s why.

When I was young our family moved from California to a farm in North Dakota, where my parents sought to be admirably self-sufficient.

Part of that self-sufficiency was not only growing enough potatoes for the season, but enough potatoes to get our family through until the next crop of potatoes came the following summer. While we were just a family of three – mom, dad, me – we did live a fairly rigorous meat-and-potatoes lifestyle, so we’re talking quite a few potatoes that I helped my father dig up in late summer and that we then packed neatly in barrels that we stored in a cold storeroom in our basement appropriately called “the potato bin.”

Once or twice a winter, my father would say, “It’s time to do the potatoes,” and I would join him in the very chilly potato bin, lit only by a single light bulb hanging from a swinging cord that may have been Depression-era wiring, and we would sit on very cold metal stools, and one-by-one, pick the potatoes out of the barrel, toss out the ones that had gone soft and wrinkly, snap the white viney sprouts off of the eyes of the good ones, and carefully repack them, now de-sprouted, back into the barrels.

It took a while.

It was cold and quiet work.

And, I was trying to remember what my dad and I talked about while we sprouted (or was it de-sprouting?) each potato. I don’t think we talked about anything. We just sat in quiet and sprouted potatoes.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

And, just to be clear, snapping a sprout off of a potato, makes no snapping sound at all.

There was, back in the day … a Cuban pitcher, Camilo Pascual, who had some pretty good years with the Washington Senators in the 1950s and some even better years when the Senators became the Minnesota Twins in the 1960s, leading the American League in strikeouts in 1961, ’62, and ’63, and leading the league in shutouts and complete games three times. He was a five-time All-Star.

They called him “Little Potato,” so as not to confuse him with his older brother Carlos Pascual who pitched two games for the Washington Senators in 1950 and who people called “Big Potato.”  (Potato being a mondegreen of “patato,” a Cuban slang term meaning “shorty,” which Carlos at 5’6” was, but Camilo, at 5’11” really wasn’t.)

Anyway, potato-related simply due to mishearing.

There was, back in an even longer-ago day … anywhere from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s … something called the “Little Potato Baseball League” which was a baseball league for boys that pre-dated Little League and T-Ball.

The New Orleans Time-Picayune, 6/4/1888

19th century sportswriters weren’t afraid of a good potato pun.

While Little Potato Baseball pretty much disappeared everywhere else by the mid-1930s, Cincinnati kept their Potato League going until the 1970s.

The Cincinnati Enquirer, 8/19/1958

Cincinnati’s Holy Cross team was the Little Potato powerhouse of the late 1950s.

I wish Little Potato League Baseball was still a thing.

It sure is quiet around here.

18 thoughts on “It Sure Is Quiet Around Here

  1. Jackie, glad to hear you made it through the power outage. That musta been a little scary at times, not knowing when/if the power was gonna go back on. I live in an apartment complex and seldom think about the power going out. I’m lucky in that if it did go out, I could go to my girlfriend’s place. Otherwise I guess I’d wind up at a local gym or shelter. As far as potatoes, I had no idea they house so much vitamin C!! Great news!!! I love potatoes, especially yellow ones. I mix them up with beans at least once a week. Great to have you back writing.

  2. Quiet is good. But let’s hope baseball returns before the end of winter. I just switched out Aaron’s Christmas lanyard that he carries his keys and bus ID on, for the one he purchased at Grapefruit League Spring Training in March of 2020, one of the few games that were played that spring. And here we are still fighting a pandemic two years later and in a baseball lockout…But hope always springs eternal when we are talking about baseball. So here’s to hoping you don’t have too much quiet moving into the spring and summer! ( And glad you survived your power outage. We were actually just about to load up the car and head to our cabin for new years eve when we got a notification that high winds had knocked out all the power in our mountain community and unlike you our generator only lasts about 8 hours so we stayed in town!)

    • With gentle tending our generator did really well. We installed it years ago and this storm was its first multi-day test. We now have a much better idea of how much propane we need and how to squeeze out just enough light or heat to get by. Unlike Colorado (and Minnesota/North Dakota, which you also know well), even the hint of snow flurries brings a very real sense of terror to the hearts of Virginians.

  3. Thank you for another insightful and informative post. I had never heard of the Little Potato League. For a baseball history addict like myself, that is like a canteen dropping from the sky as I low-crawl across the Mojave Desert.

    • I want to write an ode to the Little Potato League, because it sounds like poetry to me. If you’re interested in finding out more … the league peters out most everywhere around the mid-1930s (right about the time Little League is founded), except in Cincinnati which keeps it going until at least 1970. If you dig into the Cincinnati Enquirer archives you’ll find lots of mentions, including photos of each season’s Little Potato League champions.

  4. Thank you for making eating a potato almost guilt free! Like you we rationed our generator use, but tv and internet were out until this afternoon. The quiet was nice the first couple of days, but a week of it was making me feel like a true hermit. It’s lovely to communicate with the outside world and read your thoughtful blog.

  5. Beautiful pictures of your home in the snow and great potato stories. I am sure you always use organic ones if possible! So glad you made it through the outage and now some sunny and warmer days in Virginia.

  6. Pingback: Doughnuts, someone who looks very familiar … and highlights: Jan. 16 – A Silly Place

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