barelybear

United Kingdom

she/her, INFJ-A
musicals
fantasy/dystopian fiction
piano
life goal = becoming fluent in le français
☕️
est August 2020
community ambassador alum :D
They tell me I’m 16 but I’m sceptical
the squirrel is back!!

not active rn :c

Message to Readers

Draft 4 - final
Thank you endlessly to the support everyone has given me on my journey to publish this. I’ve had some incredible reviews and comments that have helped me from the tiniest typos to the themes and the tone of the piece. I’m getting all emotional now about potatoes gah, but really just
*Thank you*

Potatoes

May 18, 2021

For as long as I can remember, Dad’s been in the garden, kitted out in his camouflage jacket, army-style boots and covered in streaks of mud. He wells holes 6.2cm apart so that each bean plant grows just right with maximum crop yield. I’ve never really understood why he bothers. Why spend all his spare time turning the soil and asking for free manure from the farm down the road? Why keep last year’s potato skins to grow this year’s crop, when larger, cleaner products could easily be bought from the supermarket? And most importantly, for me, anyway, why force me to drudge my way outside and sag from lectures about tubers and compost? 

I suppose it’s a generational thing. He grew up on a farm, climbing trees, chasing sheep and watching the natural cycle unfold every year, the income resting on yield and how many poults (baby turkeys) would be ready in time for Christmas. Me? I grew up rooted firmly in the first world, with half a dozen devices at my fingertips. When he moved to the city, he had to sacrifice being on his farm, with his parents, with nature, all for quick commute and an easy lifestyle. And the unintended consequence — something incomprehensible to him — was that I would much rather have been huddled on the sofa swiping rows of colourful candies on my iPod than shivering in wellies that went up to my thighs.

He used to get me to help plant the potatoes, to measure the spacings with a focus and precision no eight-year-old could ever hope to achieve of their own volition. But he’d cup my hands in his as we took scoopfuls of soil that looked like chocolate cake, and showed me how to gently wrap the potato, shrivelled and pocked with white shoots, back into its bed. 

All through the year after planting, he’d spend his time watering the plants, checking for shoots across the garden, or sitting in a chair outside. Just him, the steady trickle of our broken hose, and his mind, cast back to how the taste of the countryside used to roll round, rich and gritty, on his tongue. Then, in the summer, he’d take the weight of the fork and sink its prongs into the ground, getting me to push down so that the end levered up. Potatoes, round jewels, would tumble through the warm brown earth.

I’d run off as soon as we’d finished, and scrub my hands until they were red and the sink was grey; at least I was there.

Over time, my Dad and I have come to the mutual realisation that he can’t force me to help him out in the garden anymore.

So I don’t.

But I remember the evenings when we’d boil our potatoes and eat them in salad with pounds of mayonnaise or mash with his chives: fork to mouth, and grin to the eyes as we relished in our success.

Times change, I guess. My brother leaves for university next year, the first of us, right up the other end of the country. Dad will grow the same number of potatoes as usual, and dig up a bucket load for a Sunday roast. Our grandparents might not be able to come, stranded by the pandemic, or their own fragilities. Without the extra mouths and without my brother to guzzle down a few platefuls, there will be far too much food, so we’ll be having leftovers for the next week. Still, I’ll clutch onto the smell of roasting potatoes for days, infused with garlic in full cloves and handfuls of rosemary. I’ll taste the spiced earth they sprung from, and I’ll look out the window at clouds that chase each other like the sheep through Grandad’s farm. 

I’m still figuring out why Dad puts in all the effort through the frost and the rain for our yearly potatoes. I’m coming to think it’s because he wants to make a connection, and it’s the only way he knows how. His Dad taught him how to shear sheep and how to ride a bicycle down the wobbly lanes yet to be flattened by the hunger for towns and motorways. And so, in our little garden, where if you look one way there is nothing but cow fields, and the other pylons and an Amazon warehouse, he taught me how to grow. He taught me how impossible it is to put a value on the soil that hums with potential; on our potatoes that poke their golden heads out to see everything under the steady summer sky. He taught me that sometimes, it takes the rain and the cold and the racking wind to reach the end goal. And, sometimes, it’s just worth it. 

So this year I’m helping him dig his his trenches — I’m old enough now to be able to wield his fork on my own and to measure out exactly 6.2 centimetres between each bean plant. I’m old enough to place the old potato skins, shards of last year’s care, back into their plush brown beds. I’m old enough to realise that his potatoes, replanted to sprout food for us each year, are worth more than any hug or ice cream or lesson he could ever give me. It’s what I one day hope to give to my children: pure love, homegrown in our back garden.

Even though when we have that roast, we’ll be stuck with a chicken that will never be eaten — because my sister is a vegetarian, I’m really fussy, and my brother will be struggling over a can of soup in some tiny apartment kitchen — we’ll all dig into those potatoes, and grin to our eyes in our shared moment of bliss. 
Potato salad is a very delicious barbecue side dish. We make it with boiled potatoes, mayonnaise, chives and some salt and pepper. 

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53 Comments
  • McK13

    Re: aww thank you so much! I’m so glad you agree. Your comment absolutely made my day :) oh of course! Yes, potatoes are AMAZING!! Have a fantastic day!


    about 2 months ago
  • Parisienne

    re: You are sooo sooo talented! 'I tell you I read the results at the bus stop in my leavers’ hoodie and literally had a meltdown in front of the little year 7 who gets on with me. I honestly can’t believe it!!' This is literally the most adorable thing Ellie, and IDK how you can't believe it because you sooo deserve it! I'm only sorry I didn't read it earlier, my life is so hectic at the moment but I still shouldn't have neglected this site. I've missed your comments lil sis!!! Agh sorry you have to do step-up lessons, I'm completely finished now. I start work on Friday at a cafe in town so pls wish me luck coz I am so clumsy and I bet I'll drop something. The alternative was working in Morrisons and some of their shifts start at 5am. No. Chance. hehe. I must watch this fellow potato fanatic on Friday Night Dinner. She could join our cult!
    Take care Ellie and have a lovely half term!! I hope you get a good break and that you stew in the glory of winning this competition. You're amazing!!!
    *hugs* Becca <3


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Re: Oh I'm so glad :) Yeah, 100%. I mean, it feels almost wrong for me to feel comfortable enough to go out without makeup; that is so messed up! Ohhhh you're good! Ahaaa so basically there's like this kid show/book series called Bananas in Pyjamas about 2 bananas in pjs, (onomatopoeia at its finest) and one of the characters is called Rat In A Hat, and in one episode they talked about the moon being made out of cheese lol. And I never thought about it being like Cat In A Hat, so that feels like plagiarism now!
    Re: (omg yes, the scene in The Room Where it Happens, where Jonathan starts dancing cracksss me up) Also I am so proud to announce that I unknowingly memorized the entirety of Aaron Burr, Sir, and my next goal is My Shot. I'll be memorizing like I'm running out of time!
    Your esteemed president,
    John Adams


    2 months ago
  • The_Sunrise_Queen

    congratulations on the win! I love this piece, well done!


    2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    Re: haha, I bet. This piece has definitely gotten a lot of attention(rightfully so). It is fun to have won alongside you, because it makes the whole thing a little less insane.
    It’s great that the potato is getting the love and attention it deserves. It’s such a versatile ingredient! Hehe
    Wait- is it not a vegetable?


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Re: Hell yeah he can! Oh my gosh really? *blushes* Awwweeee tysm! That's very sweet of you <33 Oh these are just getting better and better! Well I'm sure you'll be back very soon.
    President John Adams.
    (good luck!)


    2 months ago
  • Jason_claire :)

    Chapter 11 is out! :)


    2 months ago
  • Avril

    Wow Eloise this is incredible ahhh!!! It left me feeling nostalgic and so hopeful. I loved the way it progressed from small you not wanting to help with the potatoes to finding them really meaningful; it felt like I was experiencing all of that with you and it was so impactful. This is brilliant, congratulations!!!


    2 months ago
  • Stephen

    whaw!
    show me the way.


    2 months ago
  • Awesome Sienna

    Re: Thx! Ikr!


    2 months ago
  • Jason_claire :)

    replying- Of course :)


    2 months ago
  • Zirong

    re: ooo thank you so much for your sweet comment! Yea potatoes are just AMAZING and I'd love to read more pieces about them on this site hehe :D Also, I agree that Sylvia Plath's writing is so beautiful! It is the kind of beauty that would break the readers' heart. I really love her poem "Lady Lazarus" :)


    2 months ago
  • Yellow Sweater

    Re: Sorry! I have been taking a bit of a hiatus! (but I am really bad at it because I have become terribly addicted to this wonderful website) Thank you for your sweet comment and congragulationts! This piece is absolutely stunning. It's tender and tangible and oh so lovely! You really deserved the win!


    2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    Re: It really is a beautiful piece, and I'm so glad you won! It's the first time I've actually known the winner, so it's cool, because I feel like I'm talking to a celebrity.
    Thank you, that's really sweet!


    2 months ago
  • McK13

    This is so well-done!! And I love potatoes! Congrats on winning the competition! You deserved it :)


    2 months ago
  • bhumi

    re : no problem!! you too!
    thank you c:


    2 months ago
  • sriyasizzles

    Great job..and congratulations on winning the competition


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Re: Yesssss he does! Thanks lol :P Ohhhh ok. Lmao yessssss. I betcha Alexander would've gotten in first try!
    Re: Go ahead; you deserve it! I was very excited when I won best peer review, and you frickin won the WHOLE DAMN COMPETITION. Ahaaa all gooodddd. And yes the community is literally the sweetest. Oh you're welcome :)
    Go back to bed, that would be enough!
    (Ik it's come but that's plain creeeppppyyyyy)
    Your obedient (and awed) servent,
    John Adams


    2 months ago
  • SamRose

    Re: Aw tysm! About the song and the PfP haha :)


    2 months ago
  • Zirong

    "It’s what I one day hope to give to my children: pure love, homegrown in our back garden."

    This piece is so heart-warming! Also, I love potatoes!


    2 months ago
  • don't you see the starlight (#TS)

    CONGRATS! this was so moving and thoughtful; both tear-jerking and grounding (no pun intended, but I’m glad I put it in). The imagery as well as your personal experiences and lovely musing on why your dad still plants potatoes is perfect. The title lends itself to the imagination beautifully. You deserve this honor and I’m so happy for you!


    2 months ago
  • Jason_claire :)

    Congratu-laaationss :) I'm sure you've heard that a lot, but you deserve it.


    2 months ago
  • Awesome Sienna

    Congratulations! This is such a moving piece. Well done on winning!


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU WON YOU WON YOU WON YOU WON YOU WON!
    I COULDNT BE MORE PROUD OF YOU GEORGEEEEEEEE
    NOW THE WORLD WILL KNOW YOUR NAME
    WHATS YOUR NAME MAN

    But seriously I couldn't have been any happier if it had been my name up there! You deserve this so much; you are so talented and this piece is just incredible (but you already knew that ;) )
    I am so proud of you <3333333
    Felicitations!


    2 months ago
  • Parisienne

    MY BABY SISTER WON OMG SO DESERVED U ARE UTTERLY AMAZING ELLIE! THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST MOVING PIECES I HAVE EVER READ. SO, SO PERFECT. YOU HAVE SO MUCH TALENT AND YOU ARE GOING TO GO SO FAR!! I HOPE YOUR EXAMS ARE GOING WELL AND WOAHHHH YOU AMAZE ME SO MUCH WITH YOUR BEAUTIFUL WORK...GLAD THE KING OF CARBS WAS INCLUDED BTW!! SORRY TO TYPE IN CAPS BUT I'M JUST SOO AMAZED BY YOUR WORK. CONGRATULATIONS AND SENDING U MOUNTAINS OF HUGS!!!! XOXOX


    2 months ago
  • writergirl79

    Well done on winning the food writing competition you deserved it great job


    2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    Re: Thank you so so much for all your help, I really appreciate it.


    2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    Oh my gosh, congratulations!! You most definitely deserved to win. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is such a good piece and you are such a talented writer!


    2 months ago
  • SamRose

    Wow, this is great! Congratulations on the win! You totally deserve it! :)


    2 months ago
  • rwong

    congrats!!! this is such an amazing piece--really well written!!


    2 months ago
  • Olivia/Via

    Congrats! Thank you for following me early on as well! Your writing is soooo goood!


    2 months ago
  • bhumi

    congrats!! you deserve it!


    2 months ago
  • sci-Fi

    Congrats on winning!!!! This is so beautifully written and such a sweet story <3


    2 months ago
  • The Ravenclaw Dragon

    This is amazing! It's really interesting. And congrats on the competition! Keep on writing!


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Re: Awwee tysm! Well they don't come from my head so I guess....my stomach?

    Re: Aaaahhhhh lmaooooo that's one of the best yet. Ahhh those are all great! Lemme go see which ones are in my on repeat.....I like History has its eyes on you, who lives, who dies, who tells your story, and non-stop (lol I really like Christopher Jackson's ones) But I also love Wait For It, Dear Theodosia (tho that's suchhh a weird name), Guns and ships, literally every k g song...and yeah every other song on the track. Hamilton is the best thing that's come around since instant ramen.

    Awwww I'm sure it is :) Hope I get to do it! Did you put a LOT of work into your application? Like they say they want a "thoughtful" paragraph....was yours quote unquote thoughtful? (lol I felt the need to say quote unquote instead of " ")
    Well I am just your humble servant,
    Who will send a fully armed battalion to kill your friends and family (yes im turning the tablesss)
    Jane Adams
    (John's long lost sister)


    2 months ago
  • Jason_claire :)

    replying- Thanks so much for the comment and follow! Your tips were super helpful :) Have a good day/night


    2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    Re: Ok, cool. Thank you so much for answering my relentless questions ;)
    I was on the fence before, but now(thanks mostly to you) I think I'll apply. Again, thank you so much!


    2 months ago
  • Jason_claire :)

    Hi, chapter ten of now-called Genesis is out :) Have a good day/night


    2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    Re: Oooh, those are all really great. I'm gonna need to play around with it, thank you for your feedback!
    Ok, ok, sounds cool. I think the reviewing sounds pretty fun, though I'm a little worried about not having any ideas of how to respond to the prompts.
    Thank you for answering my questions, it was super helpful! One more, how is the training? Is it super long, is it fun, is it super awkward because no one personally knows each other?
    Thanks again!!


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Re: Awww tysm :) It's so fun thooo. Ooohhh non-stop is one of my favs too! Oh wow, bravo *claps*. Oh nuuuu that's so sad! Ahhh yes. I think Covid would be a better time to see it because no one could see my puffy eyes and wet cheeks behind the mask....
    Ooh yes please! Otherwise I'll have to convince you to start a harem.....(oof that sounds so weird but it fits so well)
    Aww that's so sweet you like the accents. Part of why I want to do it so much is the whole interacting side of it :) Noooo it's super sweet!
    Oh my gosh these are literally just getting better and better,
    Well I guess you just worked,
    Non Stop,
    His very important importantness,
    John Adams


    2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    Hi there! I saw that it's time for them to start a new term for CAs, and I was wondering how you liked it. I'm thinking about applying, but I'm not totally sure yet, so I figured I'd ask someone who had done it. The main thing I'm worried about is the time commitment, because I don't have huge amounts of time to dedicate to it.


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Ahh Ellie, what you said was so sweet on the application thingo!


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Awww your community ambassadorship is nearly over :(


    2 months ago
  • bhumi

    re : (ooops) in the previous comment I meant 28th May


    2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    Re: Thank you so much!! You give the best feedback/compliments.


    2 months ago
  • bhumi

    re : thanks!! I can't wait for 24th
    also sorry I didn't reply sooner uwu
    hmmm definitely need to try that, shepherd's pie... never seen/tried that
    me too! (as long as it's vegetarian) I totally agree!!
    my mom makes chickpeas in gravy and they make an amazing evening snack! Great c: how many subjects/papers do you have?

    you too!
    Bhumi


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Oh mai gooosssshhhhhhhh Ellie! My sister and her bf came over for dinner tonight, and my fam were saying about how we want to go have a holiday at Hamilton Island (yes you heard that right), and so I naturally kept singing Hamilton songs (like, why throw away my shot?) And my sister was talking to my OTHER sister and they were talking about coldbrew (blech) and my sis said something in coffee terms, but she said somethin about having a shot of coffee, so I started singing my shot, and THEN my sis said - completely oblivious - "Urgh she's been singing Hamilton songs non stop!" which made me laugh very loud and manically, and start singing Non-Stop. It has been a good day UwU


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Re: Aww you're so cute UwU (in a good way lol) Awe thanks! Yesss I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who goes back like a million times! Also the part in The World Was Wide Enough is so powerful where Hamilton's singing acapella. I can't remember if I told you but a girl who goes to my acting school got to see the original cast in New York. Sooo jealous!
    Aaa yay! I haven't really met anyone else who knows about it! Ooohhhhh so I'm not the only one slightly crushing on Anthony? Hmmmm :)
    But then we'll have to plot each others demise....
    if only the world was wide enough for both of us...
    President
    John
    Adams


    2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    This is incredible! I'm just reading it now, but it's a wonderful piece! I was so invested, and you imagery is(as always) stunning.
    Also, this is so random, but I just realized that your username is BARElybear. I've always read it as BARLEYbear(like the grain) for some reason. It makes so much more sense now! Hehe.
    Anyways, amazing job, and have a nice day!


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Re: Good lol ;p Lol I know most of their songssssss. Okie UwU Yes those reasons are very valid.
    Ikrrr??? And like the scream Eliza does; hhhhh. Oooohhhhh you like Anthony as well? SO DO IIIIII! Did you hear that he's doing a movie version of Lin's musical, In the Heights? It's releasing next month and I am soooooooooooooooo excited. (I can barely wait for it ;) ) They've released 2 songs on Spotify (In the Heights and 96,000) which are both on my On Repeat lol. If you haven't already, you should totally listen to them.
    Well yes we do, because he's such a good actorrrr! Also did you know that he and Peggy/Maria Reynolds are married? (the actors, not the characters lol)
    Well I'll just have to
    wait
    for your next comment...
    that was so bad sorry.
    anywayyyy
    John Adams.


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Re: IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY THAT YOU THINK THAT! ALSO YES I AGREE YOU AND I IS A VERY VERY GOOD SONG.
    Lmaoooooooo :P Tell your friend they have good taste!
    Oooh yeah that'd look cool UwU
    Re: Yeah ikkkkkk lol. But I like it so it all works it :) Yeah I have heard your hair does get a lot lighter when you cut it off. (which makes sense lol)
    Ohhh ok. Lol I've only had 1 white christmas! That was when I lived in America; Australia doesn't really get white christmases! (is that how it's spelled?) Ooh that's cool; I've never been skiing!
    Ohhh yeah uptown funk is a bopppp.
    Re #3: Lmaoooooooo, well it is like the 7th book in a series, but the series is called Max and Liz. (It's a Christian book series UwU) It's like based on animals going through the historic times of....history, but this book is called The Declaration, The Sword, and The Spy (is that an Oxford comma I see???), by Jenny L. Cote. I get so excited every time I see John Adams; I honestly feel so proud.
    Oh 100%! I always get so excited as well! Ohhhhh yes I love Guns and Ships so much! EVERYONE GIVE IT UP FOR AMERICAS FAVOURITE FIGHTING FRENCHMANNNNNNN! Also I love the French sooo....
    Oh so will I!
    Aaahhhhhhhh I've been watching Hamilton over a period of like 2 weeks, because I've been putting off the last act, cause I knew I would cry so hard when Philip died.....I did...
    I mean, like, I had tears streaming down my face when Laurens died,
    and then Philip died and I was crying really hard,
    and then Alexander frickin died, and I was legit sobbing.
    I'm not even kidding you.
    And then my brother came in and was like 'wElL iM gOiNg To BeD!" and I was trying to hide my puffy eyes.....
    whoooo so funnnn!
    I mean I was crying at best of wives and best of women cause I knew what was coming up and then I cried at Eliza singing at the end.....
    BUT I STILL LOVE HAMILTON SO MUCHHHH


    2 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Oh my gosh Ellie; so I'm reading this book which is set in 1775, it's a historical fiction, and it's so cool because you (aka King George the III) is one of the main-ish characters, and so is me (aka John Adams)! They even mentioned Hamilton once OwO It was so funny, I was just reading a line, and John and his cousin were talking about how they should get Washington to lead the army, and they were talking about their options, and they said "either Horatio Gates or the slovenly, hotheaded Charles Lee" and I immediately went IM A GENERAL! WHEEEEEEEEEEE!
    Lol so that was just to tell you that lmao


    2 months ago
  • NewPoet

    Re: I am so excited for it!!! I really want to watch the series on Netflix... I think it was a good choice making Ben Barnes The Darkling.


    2 months ago