Hello lovely vegetable eaters.
This is the time of year when the plants are on the move. The tomato vines are stretching out their arms and responding to guidance by growing new branches out of their armpits. The summer squash patch is a sandpaper jungle that requires bodily contortion and lots of hopping (which is more like leaping with my short legs) before plunging headfirst into the belly of the beast, only to resurface with too many squash to carry. Most of these plants have the favorable trait of an upright stature, but eventually they join the others in ambling across the pathway and into the cucumber patch next door where those vines are well into their own quiet chaos.
The raspberry canes elongate and flower while continuing to send up vigorous shoots from below, and their wispy branches reach out to tug at your shirt as you walk by. The reign of the perky, tidy tufts of kale, broccoli and radish is over. There’s no “searching” for that Japanese turnip or Snowball cauliflower. Their leaves act like arrows, inviting your eye to follow them down or in and voila! There awaits thy fruit on a shiny platter. Nope, those days are long gone - summer is all about the vine. As a result, harvest is far more like a hunt.
Sure, sometimes you’ll run across zucchinis so gargantuan they’ll literally stop you in your tracks. Or the occasional berry or those first couple ripe cherry tomatoes will beckon for you, but it’s likely that they’ll vanish into a mouth (like mine) a couple days before the Friday harvest. The good stuff knows how to hide, and techniques must be developed to sniff them out on harvest days. Leaves act as shields and the best fruit can fall off the vine to rot, or grow to be the size of large infants if missed.
The tried and true method is the walk-by followed by circle-back every couple yards to see what you missed the first time. If this footpath were mapped out it would look a lot like a series of small curly-cues along the garden bed, and works especially well for raspberries and tomatoes. Then there’s the classic dance of digging through leaves, involving a breast-stroke type of swimming motion for the arms, which is better suited for the summer squash and cucumber.
The more angles you can see from, the better. For example, a child might find berries you missed due to their height perspective, so it’s wise to incorporate the squat in order to get the view from below when you’re picking alone. Let those kids eat all the berries they can get their hands on!
Does this theme transcend past the garden and into our social realities? When searching for answers, how many angles do you consider and how deep would you dig? How often do you revisit philosophical roads once traveled? Surely that answer is tied into how badly one craves the truth they’re seeking.
Here’s to the search!
Shawn’s writing = so good.