Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lock the car Dear, it's squash season out there.....

     Living in the country has it share of trials and tribulations, dust storms, driving 10 miles to the grocery store, power outages, but at this time of the year all of those take a back seat to the sudden appearance of your neighbor's excess garden produce, on your property, of which, the worst has to be squash.

     It was an uneventful day a week ago, a day seemingly like any other, right up until that changed.  I approached the back door of my house and there, set innocently in front of it, was a bulging plastic shopping bag.  My face went white, my spine tensed, and I peered over to peek at the contents whilst
all the while not actually touching it (if you do, it automatically becomes yours, kind of like tag (You're it !)).  It was full of cucumbers and tomatoes.  I quickly glanced around but in a scene reminiscent of every B Dracula movie, the streets were quickly emptying, the shutters on houses were banging shut, and heavy curtains were drawn together with just enough space for an eye to peer through.  Damn, they got me.   I leaned over, picked up the bag, but before I did, I fished my remote from my pocket, turned back to the driveway and locked my car, because I knew that where there were cucumbers, there were bound to be squashes. 

     How does it start?  You move to the country and someone suggests that having a garden with would be a good idea (which it is).  You plow and make rows and then plant and inevitably you over-plant, for instance, 6 zucchini plants doesn't sound like a lot, does it?  (It is).  The thing about
More Squash
 planting things at the same time is, that they tend to come up at the same time, so after weeks of watching things grow in your garden there are suddenly a couple of weeks full of bountiful harvests.  You try and consume the excess produce, then you slice and freeze and then pickle and can, but inevitably you run out of time, shelf and freezer space and energy, while you still have buckets of produce to deal with, and more coming at you each day.  You've put a lot of time and energy into this, so you don't want to see it go to waste, so as you scan the horizon over your tomato plants, what is the first thing that you see in the distance?  That's right, your neighbors houses and that's when the idea forms. Didn't the Pilgrims do it after all, or was it the Indians?  So with the best of intentions, history on your side and a 5 gallon bucket of produce banging against your shin, you start making the rounds, to share your bounty.  Your neighbors, however,  know this drill as they've seen it before.  They've watched your garden as closely as you have and know when your peak production 
Hidden Squash
time will be.  They've scheduled their family vacations around it, or locked themselves in, like housebound agoraphobics just to avoid you.  They are in there, sitting amongst their stockpiled water jugs, car parked 2 streets away to give the appearance of not being home, and they sure as hell, are not going to answer the door during squash season.  After 2 hours of lugging the bucket around, you return home, discouraged, but not giving up.

     Over the next couple of weeks you look for every opportunity to give some vegetables away.  You buy decorative baskets, assort them with varied vegetables and try and deliver them.  It's like a macabre reverse ding, dong, ditch, where you run up to a house, ring the bell, drop your basket and try to make it back to the car before the neighbors can make it to the door.  FYI. a basket full of squash with a bow tied to it, is still a basket full of squash.  Woe is the child with the late summer
They started with 3 that day
birthday, as you will not be above sending zucchini home as a party favor.   FYI, a zucchini, painted with a face or made into a Mr. Potato Head,  is still a zucchini.   This only works once and you have to think carefully about how popular your child is before you use this nuclear option.  Trust me, the conversation goes like this....."Mom, why can't I go to Tommy's birthday party?  "Because, they are (gasp) gardeners, now go play in your room with the curtains pulled".   Rookie harvesters will make a classic squash collector's error and try and put a table out in front of their house with a free squash sign on it and a half a dozen or do squashes.   At the end of the day, when they check the table, the number of squash will have doubled or tripled while they weren't watching.  Another method is to go out in teams with one person distracting "the mark" while you slip a basket close to
them, only to be discovered after you've departed.   Even with all these tactics, it's inevitable that eventually you find yourself looking at unlocked cars (you considered the collection basket at church but the guy wielding it seems pretty frail).  Once you've done your first break and enter, squash leave, you never go back, which is exactly why I lock my car during squash season.

     I want to end on a positive note and my sister (Wilson, who I just named in this blog) gave me just the story.  I swear, what you are about to read is true.  Wilson's Mother in Law, now passed, used to stay with them in their country home, which was at a stop sign on the Stanley Cabbage trail.  Trucks overflowing with cabbage would drive by their home all day and because cabbages are round, the trucks are overfull and they have to stop, the momentum regularly causes cabbage to roll from the trucks and fall to the ground.  Farmers call this acceptable loss, my sister's family calls it dinner.  The story goes that Wilson's MIL would run for the door each time a cabbage truck would pass and search the ground for dropped
Wait for it.......
produce.  One week, while she stayed, the pickings were slim and to bolster her spirits, her son bought a cabbage at a stand, scuffed in on the asphalt before he returned home and rolled in onto his front lawn, awaiting the next truck.  A short time later, his mother heard the brakes of a cabbage truck, ran out again and returned with her scuffed cabbage proudly in hand and a smile stretched across her face.  I'm positive that, that smile of hers, was repeated last week as a particularly overloaded truck turned the corner near Wilson's house and lost 30 or so cabbages.  My sister Wilson's kids all ran out, collected them, and then channeling their deceased grandmother, handed them out to passing cars with a sign proclaiming "Free Road Cabbage".   I didn't pass by there that day, but if I had, you can be sure, my car doors would have been locked.



Dan Yarger said...

And here I was thinking only children don't like to eat their vegetables. Guess some things never change!

Anonymous said...

I also had an encounter with dad over squash. I was home on maternity leave & was trying to help with groceries and cooking...so I purchased a variety of different squashes from a Farmers Market. Dad scoffed at this and said why would you buy this when it is so prolific...then he added like you.....When I looked it up, not having any idea what I might have in common with squash.... I certainly had a laugh...and thought look who's talking!!! Funny and Sentimental Blog as I enjoyed Wilson's MIL smiles so much.