Summer Still Life

Back in the day….

There was a garden at the Ancestral Home.

A practical, sensible, fully functional plot of dirt that had one and only one purpose: to put free, fresh veg on the table and into all of us.

Every year, it was both the same and yet completely different. This was not some Zen thing, but rather the place where Irish and Italian and Yankee and a growing family converge.

There would be tomatoes.

They would be purchased in flats from the garden store or a farm stand or would be a gift from someone who started too many or be started under grow lights in the cellar OR all or none of the above.

The tomatoes would be all the same variety, each plant a different variety, a hodge-podge of unknown varieties or volunteers sprouting up from the tomatoes we had missed on the plants from the season before. They would be put in too early or too late or overtaken by horn-worms or eaten by the birds or sat on by the dog or they would be the very definition of abundance..

Tomato Hornworm - pick 'em off - wash your hands REAL good

Tomato Hornworm – pick ’em off and give ’em a bath in soapy water – then wash your hands REAL good.

They would be staked with bamboo or trellised in wire cages or staked with broken hockey sticks or left unstaked (but only until Uncle Al came to visit, when he would put things to rights. He staked tomatoes like grapevines in a vineyard.)

We weren't the only ones to do this....

We weren’t the only ones to do this….click ‘broken hockey sticks’ for link.

And there would be summer squash. And zucchini. Bell peppers. Hot Peppers.

Or not.

Lettuce. Cucumbers. Basil. Parsley. Dill. Eggplants.

Or not.


Lots of weeds.

Chick weed, chicory, dandelion, purslane, crabgrass. Now I know many of the weeds we pulled are edible…as many things are if you’re hungry enough.

And the weeds and the peelings and the ones we missed and got beyond ripe, went into compost, to be part of the next garden, because  we were influenced by the Yankee thrift.

Or cheap.

In later years we would be green. In retrospect. But not until the Carter Administration.

A still life with Tomatoes, a Bowl of Aubergines, and Onions by Melendez, c. 1771-1774

A still life with Tomatoes, a Bowl of Aubergines, and Onions by Melendez, c. 1771-1774. Everything gathered and ready for lunch. Or supper.

For reasons that make no sense whatsoever, Lawrence Welk has been on my brain. I share this earworm.

Lawrence Welk Theme Song
Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn
Lawrence WelkGoodnight,goodnight,
until we meet again
Adios,Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn ’til then
And though it’s always sweet sorrow to part
You know you’ll always remain in my heart
Goodnight, sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to you
Here’s a wish and a prayer that every dream comes true
And now ’til we meet again
Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn
– lyrics by Jack Elliott, music by George Cates   

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