The Green Thumbs knew my family would be gone for three weeks and unable to help in the garden for most of July.
I feared they might become annoyed at having to rake, water and weed the plot without our help in the summer heat. But when we returned home, they welcomed us with tin buckets and plastic bags full of homegrown vegetables. They rang our doorbell. They knocked on the door. And if we weren’t at home, they left vegetables in a grocery bag hanging from our front doorknob. I couldn’t believe they were giving away so much fresh food.
I was glad when they caught me at home and shared details of what we missed. While we were away, they picked all of the onions along the fence, but we still have a row of purple onions. They ate most of the beans, lettuce and radishes, but they planted more. The pumpkins and melons that were just flowers on a vine when we left are thriving. So are the colorful sunflowers. And we have more tomatoes than a person can count.
“I feel like I missed the whole garden experience,” I said, surprised to find a cantaloupe among the cucumbers, okra and eggplant.
“You did!” my fellow gardener said.
She didn’t talk about the extra chores in the garden. Instead, she wanted a break from the added kitchen duty. The plentiful harvest meant daily washing, blanching and freezing vegetables so they wouldn’t go to waste.
My sons and I happily accepted the food and picked more in the garden ourselves. We decided to make and freeze tomato sauce for our Wednesday spaghetti nights. We washed and sliced and chopped and stewed and stirred and spiced until most of the day disappeared.
When we finally finished cleaning up, we discovered another bag of cucumbers that was left at our front door.
“Potential pickles!” I said, which will mean more time in the kitchen.
We need to do something with the eggplant first. Then we’ll get to the pickles. And more tomatoes, peppers and onions look almost ready to pick. We’ll need to make more sauce with those soon.
We’ve been living the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper. My friends, the Ant, will have tasty, healthy vegetables to eat all winter because they’ve been tending to the garden and storing food. If we don’t turn things around, my family, the Grasshopper, will be looking for food in the snow and freezing temperatures at the local supermarkets.
I don’t like the cold, and I do like fresh homegrown vegetables, whether they show up at my doorstep or I pick them myself. So extra kitchen duty it is for the next few weeks. Without fail, this July grasshopper is turning into an August ant.