On stories

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Finally, a broccoli harvest. That damned Rod Stewart song rang through my head when I was picking it: “Tonight’s the night!”

I think one of the major reasons I grow my own food is that the gardens are a veritable treasure trove of tales.

Think about it: does your dinner have a story to tell? I could bore people silly with my veggies’ tales! (And sometimes I do: you all have been recipients of a couple snoozers, surely.) But mostly, it’s the stories I tell myself. I will pull a particular bag of produce out of the freezer, or a jar of something off the shelf, and I will be reminded of its growth, of its harvest. Of how many tries it took me to actually grow something, of how puny the harvest was, or how bountiful (remembering well when I thought I could not. possibly. eat. another. tomato. last summer).

And then there’s the anticipation of a harvest that really makes a meal wonderful. I have some piracicabia and calabrese broccoli ripening in the greenhouse. When I finally harvested my first batch of it, I was a happy person.

Or then there’s the joy of the happy accident. Some of my best melons and squash were found in or near the compost heap. There’s the wonder I feel when I first pull the tiniest of potatoes from the warm earth. There’s the shock I feign when I learn my father-in-law is prone to cadging a few peas out of the garden when we aren’t home. There’s the shock people express when I bring them something and they seriously cannot believe that I grew it.

There’s the joy I have in taking people on tours of the garden and assuring them that, yes indeed, that really IS the way Brussels sprouts look when they grow.

So, yes, I’m a gardener, first of all, because I love to eat good food. I swear to you, though, the stories are a close second.

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10 responses to “On stories

  1. What a gorgeous picture! What kind of dressing will you put on top of those beautiful greens? Love your story about the stories you love to tell! πŸ™‚

  2. How true!
    Just don’t let Amy Stewart hear you. πŸ˜‰ (I’m sure you caught her “Shut up and eat” piece on NPR).

  3. Liz: I did. I nagged her about it on Garden Rant (because she plugged it there too.) Saw your ELC post, too. I think she’s just one of those rare creatures who lives only one kind of life with one kind of people around her, and has no clue there’s 98% of another kind of person in this country. She just sounded so whiny and mean.

    Farmgirl: I’m a balsamic and olive oil kind of girl; but it’s my shallots and parsley in there. BV and EVOO are my two real nonlocal splurges in my life. And thanks! πŸ™‚

  4. great post! i just pulled some strawberry freezer jam out the other day and instead of snow and sub-zero temps, I was transported to June, with the kiddos eating berries by the fist-full in the garden. I remebered what it is to be warm!! thanks for the post, and the stoires!

  5. It’s all about the stories, because the food tastes even better when there are stories to season it.

    Can I suggest some stories about the more unusual (at least to me) vegetables you grow? The skirret and the piracicabia? Should I try this at home? Especially considering my husband wouldn’t eat Black Krim tomatoes because of the way they looked.

  6. My salad bed was pretty much pooped out, then along came the deep freeze. I shoulda installed the tunnel I had two years ago. We had great salad all year long. I still haven’t mastered the broccoli, just spotty success. I wonder what I could do to improve.

  7. We’re human. We need stories as much as we need food!

  8. Stacie: that’s brilliant! I’m sure your kids remember the berry picking too which is also just great.

    Ali: Coming up (look for it in a couple of posts). The piracicabia is just a kind of broccoli that’s rather “soft” and doesn’t get bitter; that’s a bunch of it in the photo. It doesn’t head up much; lots of side shoots. It tastes out of this world, frankly.

    Ed: I know well the deep freeze. I hadn’t ever experienced a full shut-down of the kales and collards until this year out in the gardens. And as for broccoli: yeah, that’s another cold-loving veggie; they’re growing painfully slowly in the greenhouse but they’re quite wonderful. But once it gets (and stays) above 80 in there they’ll be toast too.

    Emily: So true! It’s fun though just keeping up with the stories the ground has to tell.

  9. Thank you for bringing this up. For the past couple weeks I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the connection of stories and living with awareness. I started to notice the relationship between the two while Meg and I were shopping for seeds. The pattern that developed was that all of the seeds we bought or traded had stories. Then I noticed that the recipes we use also all have stories. I began to wonder and still wonder if the presence of a story is any kind of indicator for living organically, locally, and with awareness. Hmm.

  10. Great points, Kelly! My own stories are merely about a particular plant’s trajectory of life in its own little spot in my world. But when you learn about Trail of Tears beans or Mortgage Lifter tomatoes or Gilfeather turnips, well, you’re doomed. You want them ALL.

    Big Macs don’t tell such tales.

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