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26 June, 2011

Garden: 3. Tis the Peason

Not that I don't enjoy the planning, digging, and all the other jobs that lead to a garden actually producing, but when harvesting begins, happiness makes a quantum leap. Earlier in the year, my thickly planted garlic bed offered up scalliony goodness during thinning operations. Catch it before clove formation, and you can slice right through end to end, nothing wasted. 

June crept up on me before the snow peas started coming in, but now there is a flood. Every morning starts with a garden walk, pods crisp and dewy are my first meal of the day. And then part lunch, snacks, and dinner. Some become stir-fry, but most just go straight in my mouth, and my kids. The younger one, especially, sits in the circle garden of peas, munching. There's probably only about 16 row-feet, but the abundance knows no  bounds at this time of year. Yet, this is one crop we never get bored with, never get caught in the zucchini conundrum: what new recipe can we plan to hide the sameness of the ingredient? The green purity of peas, the prep-less package pops in your mouth. Done.

The direct joy of eating gets better with the subversive spice of eating without paying. A couple of bucks for seeds, yeah, but not 5 dollars a pound for the flaccid grocery store pods, or even more for the good stuff at the farmers market. (I love you, local farmers, and truth be told will still be buying most of what I eat from you.) Expanding the garden each year means that freedom is growing, or at least that I get to eat better stuff for less money. Both amount to a bit of divestiture from the globalized food machine.

Meanwhile, scapes escape the leaves on the garlic, offering up it's second meal. Diced, thrown in whole just to exude flavor,...however you want to go about it, they're a welcome taste of summer. And harvesting them can be a sensual dance. Slyly slip a forefinger inside the curve, a comforting thumb pressing on the back, and slide toward the tip until snap! the scape finds release. Cutting seems so brutal, besides which you can end up with tough stuff, nearly woody, no fun to chew. As with just about any picking, it's good to take what comes easily, if you're pulling hard your timing is off, or you're doing it wrong and hurting your plant. 

The other thing coming in now are strawberries. The first are a mystery variety from the neighbor's leftover shoots planted last summer. They carpet the ground under and around blueberry bushes. Birds peck at a few, but they are not as ambitious as a 6-year-old, who is eating nearly as many of these as the peas. This year seems much better than last for the berries, or maybe just the joy of harvest seasons beginning has me all blissed out. 

Lettuce prey has fallen to garden forays as well by now, and Olympia spinach, too. Cilantro still does not seem at home here, but is better than last year, reinforcing my garden superstition that seeds from far away--in this case the southeast--takes a few seasons to acclimate. Garden superstitions abound, even in my often science-bound mind, which suspects that they pertain to phenomena perhaps unexplained, but not necessarily inexplicable or supernatural. Seems like somethign I'll write about eventually.

But for now, it's time to glory in the abundance. To revere the reawakening of earth's generosity. To maybe, as Mr. Lowery says, sing songs of the fecundity of life and love.

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