Christmas past

On a cold, monsoon day 48 years ago, my Marine company set in on a God-forsaken patch of hills called Phu Bai, south of the DMZ in Vietnam. We dug in best we could, amid the mortars and rain pouring down incessantly. We settled in our two-man foxholes, ponchos overhead, mud and ankle-deep water beneath, on four-hour watches, trying desperately to find comfort under the cold, unceasing winter monsoons and mortar shrapnel, tearing apart our sanity and bodies and ponchos, day after day after day — through patrols, missions, three-day ambushes, and days “off.”. These were tough marines, but more than one shot themselves to get out.
On about the 40th day, tanks came in and the rain stopped. We climbed out into sunlight and began drying our socks and clothes and minds, on the hot diesel exhaust fans of the tanks. Mail call was announced. Gifts were tossed into waiting arms as their names were called by our platoon sergeant.
It was Christmas, and we were alive.
Thank you God.

About lifegrower

Peter V. Fossel has been gardening since he was nine, and has been an organic farmer for the last 20 years. His most recent book, “Organic Farming, Everything You Need to know” was published by Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, 2007. He’s written numerous gardening articles for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Country Journal, Out Here, and American Profile among others. He was Gardens Manager for The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee before returning to Cape Cod to start his newest organic venture, Swan River Farm in Dennisport, MA.
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