Every year I plant the garden.
Every year I kill half. It’s a cycle. I’m okay with that–I’m getting old enough to do what I want to do in life, no questions asked. I have a system–I project out for harvest and compensate for my incompetence by overplanting.
I get in trouble for wasting. “You don’t need to plant all that stuff.”
“Yes, I do.” Why else would they have put 500 seeds in the envelope? That’s what spring is for–putting seeds in mud.
“But you’ll waste…”
It’s not waste. I’m planting enough so my friends can come over and take what they want. It’s a CSA in my own mind.
“But you don’t really have that many friends…”
I do…somewhere. Maybe I’ll mail a CSA box to San Francisco, Connecticut, Australia, or New York. Or I can dry the four rows of self-seeded cilantro and make everyone a nice taco spice. There are possibilities.
Every year I get The Late Summer Syndrome–I’m defeated by weeds.
In spring, the place looks good. Professional even. I weed. I arrange. I replant. I rotate. But there’s one magic day around the summer solstice when the sun calls forth the army of crabgrass to attack and invade. It crushes my will to fight. Game. Set. Match. Weeds win.
I’ve tried to combat this. I’ve mulched, put down newspaper and straw, I’ve planted tighter rows. It’s useless.
I let the weeds stay. Weeds, after all, are simply flowers nobody appreciates. How sad for them. Many have a purpose–some are edible, some medicinal, others pretty. I’ve eaten them, made them into tea, made flower bouquets with them.
I find rogue purslane and eat a bit. It’s lemony. I feed dandelions and clover to the chickens. The rest, I leave alone. In return, the weeds agree to remind me of the perfection in imperfection–garden wabi-sabi. It doesn’t have to be perfect–it just has to be. Like life. It’s a zen moment in the chaos while I hunt for my dinner. I could easily miss such moments. I often do.
“Find and eat season” has arrived. There’s plenty here between the weeds. If it weren’t for the fact I can’t grow toilet paper, I’d avoid the store completely. New potatoes, kale, herbs, salads. It’s Garden Where’s Waldo combined with the card game Memory. If I could just remember where I planted things… I stand very still, training my eyes.
The zucchini I wanted has been claimed by blossom rot, the rest of the strawberries bitten by a chipmunk. I have a Plan B, but of course there’s always kale. I find a ton of green beans and some broccoli that’s about to flower. Yessir–it’s going to be a kale free night!
This is my favorite time of year–when I walk outside and see what nature’s gifting me for dinner.
I go with no predisposition, no craving, no mood–open to whatever’s jumping up through the weeds shouting, “I’m ready!” It’s the best way to eat.
It’s the best way to live when I think about it–fluidly, taking each gift from life, each experience, each opportunity and converting it to something delicious.
“I told you that, dummy,” says the purslane. I eat some more. It holds its tongue. It’d better–I’m hungry. I’ll eat it–and all its little friends, too.
If I can only find them…
What I made for dinner:
Georgian* Green Bean Scramble:
(This Georgia is the country, not the South. How can you tell? Georgian and Russian food is farm-fresh in season. Tasty. US Georgian food is fried. A different kind of tasty.)
Chop and steam some green beans. I added broccoli because it was there. After steaming, sauté in a little butter. Add a few cloves of chopped garlic. Measuring’s a pain. Add a few eggs, scrambled up in a bowl. I got my eggs from the chickens down the street. Mine will be laying soon. If you’ve never had a farm-fresh egg, go on a pilgrimage and find one. You’ll be glad.
Add the eggs to the garlic and veggies. Salt to taste.
This is one of the best dinners known to man.