Produce

Eight Potatoes

Heading out to harvest is a romantic notion. Successful gardner’s pictures of full of baskets with bountiful produce, overflowing bunches of kale, and counters with little space entice and tempt me into trying year after year.

For me, gardening is an ever hopeful experience. We rotate our crops, water, and wait for months to yield something delicious. Last year, there was a bounty of cucumbers. We were swimming in pickles and sauces with dill and giving away extras to the neighbors.

This year, grasshopers munched on my beans, kale turned bitter, and while the basil was plentiful, our tomatoes gifted us with one globe a day, maybe three on a good day. Instead, I turned to the overflow of my in-laws gardens for enough fruit for bruschetta or pasta sauce. Sharing abundance is a beautiful thing.

It’s easy to stand on my stoop, overlooking our small patch of vegetables, and think we failed. When I do price comparisons, the four zucchini we grew probably rang in at over twenty dollars each. But if I focus on output, I miss the magic that grew in our small rectangle of dirt. We grew two handfuls of fairytale eggplant and roasted them up with olive oil. I experienced the joy of popping cherry tomatoes right off the vine and into our mouths. Ate some salads of lettuce before the bugs got to it. Kale chips were toasted once or twice in the air fryer. Two red bell peppers made a nice dinner with hummus and cheese.

On Sunday, I stood in the dirt and moved away the piles we had pulled together in an attempt to protect and nurture potatoes. Using shovels and trowels, I worked to these red potatoes, some as big as tennis balls. I felt like a little kid playing archeologist, wiping dirt on my pants and smooshing grime under my fingernails in pursuit of a starchy treat.

If we were dependent on my garden for sustenance through the winter, we’d be doomed.

Instead, I taught Dylan how to make mirepoix (with store bought carrots and onions) and tossed in our potatoes for stew.

If I was focusing on all we didn’t grow, I’d miss out on the joy of what was in my metaphorical, medium-size basket designed to harvest.

Life still feels like a bit of a waiting game. You know the numbers, the disconnect and the divide we are living through. And still, my garden produced just enough to instill a sense of delight. When supplemented with the gifts and bounty of other’s work, our joy expanded.

This is a lonely, confusing time to be a human. We’re working on screens, and wondering if it is safe to send our kids to school, or go to a baseball game, or even shake a strangers hands. It’s easy to look out and think, wow, what a failure. And when we do, we miss what’s happening under the dirt. No matter our yield, our attempt to grow is a beautiful thing.

We found the old VHS

You know who is a genius? Kristen Wiig. Seriously, that girl makes me laugh in so many situations. This morning, when looking at my Twitter feed at 6 am as I waited for my boss to pick me up for an all day training, I came across this funny meme (is that how you spell it? I’m too tired, I can’t think straight). The tweet was referencing improvement at work, but I felt it resonate deep into my bones. At least in a humorous way.

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With two weeks to go until the wedding, Kristen’s character from the movie “Bridesmaids” is channeling my inner insecurities. The little perfectionist inside me is yelling the same sentence. Replace Carol with Katie and whelp, you’ve got it. I’ve been staying up late and paying bills at night and making to do lists like a mad woman. My mom is going out of town next week (no judgement people – she’s a wonderful mother) but this means a lot of final lists and conversations about what to delegate to my dad. I’m sending lots of texts to my future mother in law and talking to vendors and I need to breathe at work.  It’s Wednesday night, not Monday, when I usually post and according to WordPress it’s Thursday morning from wherever they keep track, so yup, I’m behind here too. I wanted to take a moment to reflect and to post. Please forgive me that this is my space to process and vent and purge all thoughts wedding. It’s where I’m at.

We knew August was going to go fast and it is flying. This week I was able to pause just a little to reflect on the beauty of home grown produce. Isn’t it fun to see gardens yield something you can actually eat. I’m not going to attempt to post recipes here but we did make a mean green bean salad with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and a delicious dressing. The crunch of green beans are delightful.

Too, the easiest dinner is home made bruschetta. Thank you to Giada for a great Bruschetta Recipe! I used the little cherry tomatoes that we have been growing on our porch in tiny pots. I am SO proud of these stinkin’ tomatoes that seem to want to grow every which way. Maybe next year we will have a lawn. It’s nice to slow down at night and have a glass of wine and a quality meal. I guess I do have that priority together still.

Dylan had a birthday yesterday! Poor guy is doing a fabulous job of letting his birthday be, well, not a huge deal this year. We did make time though to go out for a nice dinner and to enjoy each other outside of the house. We splurged a little, and it felt extravagant to be together and talk about ‘us’ before the madness of all of this settles in. Good madness, but a little overwhelming.

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Over wine and a few courses of dinner I realized I have been with this man through so much. We started dating when I was 19. 19! That’s crazy. And here we are, more than a few years later, dreaming up ways to spend our money and formalize a life together. It made me remember when my biggest stress was registering for college classes; now the stressors are different, more adult, more like insurance plans and 401ks and institutionalized paperwork like marriage licenses. It makes me feel immensely blessed to have such a great person to help me figure things out.

Tonight, Dylan was away bottling beer for the wedding and so I went to eat with my parents. I wanted to watch “Father of the Bride”, Steve Martin style circa 1990 something. Long story short I couldn’t figure out the old VHS tape (yes, my dad still has the VHS) and this movie is not on Netflix streaming, and not in iMovie and so we settled for the 1950’s version with Elizabeth Taylor. Not as funny, but the story line is shockingly the same. Many of the lines are word for word.

Here’s a little back story on how much I love that 1990’s movie. When I was in elementary school my dad taped the movie on VHS from tv ( same tape as mentioned above) and I watched it over and over. It was my frame of reference for how weddings could be, complete, I suppose with the family freak outs over hot dog buns. Apparently, I watched the tape so many times, I wore it out, as evidenced by tonight. When I got engaged, my mom bought me a blender as our first wedding gift. I come from ‘ a long line of over reactors’ you see.  If you don’t get that, you better watch the movie – best of luck finding it.

So tonight, as my heart aches a little bit, about the anticipated excitement and changes and loss of being a daughter in the same way, I wanted to watch that movie with my parents. And we flexed and we adapted and we did the best we could with the media that was available. I know, I know, first world problem.  What struck me, however, was that my connection to comforting movies and stories and situations aren’t what are so important. All of that will change, or has changed, or is changing, and that’s ok. What matters are the social supports and love and extension and growth that comes with creating a new family. I had my mom on one side of the couch and my dad on the other, and that’s pretty neat.  I’m so excited to move forward and be a wife. And a little bit scared, and a little bit sad too, in the most complex of ways. It’s time. There is beauty in this process.

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