Nature's Bounty



At the barber shop the other day, I nearly got more than just the light trim I requested. The proprietor was doing his level best to give away pomegranates from a neighbor's tree. Why the neighbor himself wasn't involved is a mystery, but the good barber was entreating anyone who showed any interest whatsoever in this fruitful windfall to "Take a bag". One has to wonder if the neighbor wasn't, perhaps, too generous. Which could explain his conspicuous absence: the barber wanted nothing more to do with him; said neighbor was hiding out, trying to figure out a way to repair the damage to their friendship. If he didn't, who could he unload those pomegranates on next year?

The same happens around my family's home, and around the nation. Anyone with a backyard garden ends up with more than they want or can use, and their neighbors and friends suffer.

In my family, Dad worked as a mechanic in a packing shed. Twenty years in the Navy has taught him to never pass up an opportunity to scrounge. His job guaranteed us an unending source of fresh produce; whatever was in season, we had plenty of it. That's because Dad doesn't believe in moderation when it comes to fresh produce.

For example, Mom would ask him to bring home a head of lettuce for a salad with dinner; Dad has a case delivered. Thereafter, Mom tries to unload the surplus. For the next week, any of Mom's friends who came over for coffee get a head of lettuce with every refill.

During garlic season, we had five gallon buckets of the stuff lying around. How much garlic can one family eat? Again, it's foisted off on friends and neighbors. Anyone visiting from more than an hour's drive away knows from experience to leave room while packing for three or four cases of produce when they leave; their foresight is never in vain. They often short themselves on clothes and other necessities of travel to make room for the inevitable deluge of greenery.

Dad inherently believes in "Sharing the wealth". He even has an established distribution network. While lettuce might not be in season there in Central California, he nonetheless has willing truckers bring some in from Arizona from one of his vegetable cronies. In exchange, he shuttles down some honeydew melons or other succulent fruit that is in season there, in trade. Strawberries from Salinas, onions from Nevada; whenever something is ripening somewhere, my father has a contact. He even has lettuce delivered to his brothers in Nebraska. No doubt free fresh lettuce in the middle of a Nebraskan winter is quite well-received.

Of course, at the heart of this phenomenon is real "trickle-down economics" such as Reagan never dreamed of. Anyone who pays a visit to our house; every trucker; even the brothers in Nebraska: all share their goodies with their friends and neighbors, contin-uing the process.

Sometimes, though, it's just about impossible to unload a case of zucchinis; I guess you've just got to know your market, and your limitations.

If you have questions, criticisms, or things to add - email me please.


Back to main page.