Sharing The Harvest or Dumping An Inundation?

September 10, 2010

My Aunt Clara called yesterday and asked me if I wanted some butternut squash. I was a little surprised as she lives in a no-maintenance condo with Uncle Stanley and has two pots of flowers – and they might be silk. She told me that someone had dropped them off at the barbershop where Uncle Stanley, in his mid 80’s, still works. Marty gave us pounds of tomatoes over the weekend. Our quiet neighbors have gifted us with beautiful cucumbers.

It is that time of year. Everyone’s garden is putting forth an overabundance of produce and gardeners just can’t eat it fast enough. I’ve had a tomato from the garden almost everyday for breakfast and have now been eating peppers for lunch. Soon, I will be eating peppers for breakfast and dinner too. I was reaching the tipping point with zucchini weeks ago and was actually happy that the things got mildew and had to be removed. And that was only three plants!

The upside to all this is that the non-gardeners who walk among us benefit from all this delicious surplus. Don’t have a garden? Here! Take ten tomatoes! Take three squash! You didn’t grow peas this year? Take MY peas. PLEASE take my peas! It is a round robin of vegetables, with zucchini being the white elephant in the mix. Almost comically, gardeners share and tell you they just want you to enjoy this beautiful beefsteak tomato. Inside, they are laughing a dastardly bwa-ha-ha as they hoodwink you into taking a load off their hands.

The squirrels are enjoying their own surplus as the acorns absolutely litter the ground under the pin oak. They pick them up, bury them in the mulch, stuff their cheeks, run up to the nests in the trees. Two of them were in quite the argument yesterday. They chattered and che-che-ched loudly and got so physical that dead leaves from the nest were falling everywhere. I almost called 911 to report a domestic incident.

A couple today chased each other all over the yard and then ran up and down the tree, freezing in that spread eagle position on the trunk, head pointed out.

I had a flashback then, of ceramic squirrels, modeled in that position, painted at Wilma’s. My mom and grandma painted them brown and tan and fawn and brick, had them fired and then hung them from the trees in the yard, gnome-like. I loved those things. Rich and I played with them all the time and got yelled at for it every time.

Painting ceramics was a form of therapy for my grandma, who suffered from bipolar disorder. And I mean suffered. Treatment was uncertain, real therapy almost non-existent. She painted seasonal greenware and the finished products indicated where she happened to be on the bipolar spectrum. Often, her ceramic fauna was charming and representational, normal. At other times, she would completely outline the eyes in kohl black, add strange eyelashes and draw long slanted lines, like eyeliner on a movie star in the 1960’s. They came out of the kiln strange-looking, twisted, wrong. Not normal. Her rabbits and squirrels could have been laboratory materials for art therapists in training.

Maybe that’s why I had an aversion to abstract art for a long time.

An editor from a gardening magazine emailed me today. She had a moment to read my blog and offered me encouraging words. She also told me that my identification of the Virginia bluebells was incorrect. They looked more like forget-me-nots to her. I thanked her very much and explained that I bought those from a native plant sale a few years ago and they were sold as bluebells. How embarrassing.

The funny part is that I’ve bought forget-me-nots labeled as forget-me-nots about four or five times and each time, they’ve died. I have never been able to grow them.

Now when I think they’re bluebells, they grow.

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