Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cucumber Thief


I'm a fan of setting out signs in the garden.

I don't know how long ago this event happened, but I think I was 5 or 6 years old:

One summer, when my family visited my grandparents in Northern Indiana, I discovered a playmate my age who lived across the alley. She lived next door to a man who grew vegetables. One day, he gave us a cucumber from his vegetable patch. I thought it was the tastiest, most refreshing treat I'd ever had (besides ice-cream cones). Soon after, my friend and I began to steal cucumbers from the patch. The first time the man next door caught us, I yelled that I could take cucumbers from the garden because I was from West Virginia. Nobody besides myself had any idea what West Virginia had to do with anything. However, in West Virginia, I went berry-picking so many times that I thought anything edible that grew in the wild was up for grabs. Still, that was no reasonable rationalization for continuing to steal cucumbers. The man next door finally confronted my mother about my petty theft.

Yes, she was furious. My mother thinks she spanked me, but I don't remember anything but the yelling. My friend was off-limits,* I had to bring flowers to the man next door and tell him I was sorry, and I had to listen repeatedly about how wretched I was. I certainly felt wretched for having been caught, but it took awhile before I truly realized what a bad thing I had done. Years afterward, the man next door would see me and ask me (while laughing) whether I was still stealing cucumbers. By then, I had the decency to feel mortified.

These days, we're growing cucumbers of our own. Whenever we talk about the vegetables and berries we hope will grow in our garden, Lucia says, "We're going to eat them!" There is marvel and glee in her voice. Yesterday, she got to eat the first strawberry growing behind the cucumber patch. Next month, we should have sweet-peas to eat. Meanwhile, the cucumbers and winter squash will continue to grow. Someday, if all goes well, we'll have blueberries, red raspberries, huckleberries and blueberries in our front yard. In the back yard, we have potatoes in the ground with plans for carrots and chard. Bede took our small pumpkin that was beginning to rot, and buried it in the ground. Maybe we'll have pumpkins this Fall. Maybe not.


The first strawberry

I told HipWriterMama that my "goal for success" for the next 30 days was to walk for 30 minutes a day, but I'm going to have to amend that plan to include 30 minutes of exercise a day. Yesterday afternoon, I overturned grass and dirt in the front-yard for 3 hours. Then, I watered the soil, sprinkled a wealth of wildflower seeds on the dirt, raked them over, and hoped for the best. I am sore all over... again. At Bede's request, I am leaving enough lawn for us to have room for a picnic and a space for Lucia to run around.

In case it wasn't obvious before, I am a big fan of The Secret Garden (with the exception of the ending, when the focus suddenly shifts from Mary Lennox to her cousin Colin).

PM Addendum: My mom just told me that the man (from whom my friend and I stole cucumbers) said that we smashed the cucumbers, and he didn't mind the theft as much as the waste. I cannot begin to tell you how offended I am. We were thieves, not vandals. My friend had a vegetable peeler in her shed, and we used it. Other than the times I smashed the chemistry bottles of the 8 year old boy upon whom I had a crush,** and tore the paper flag belonging to the same boy, I was not a vandal.


*My friend was off-limits only for the day, though I'm sure my mother wanted to institute a lifetime ban.
**I was five years old. The crush was not requited.

12 comments:

Lady K said...

I have a good mind to claim a piece of land on the golf course next door and plant a garden. I SO miss it, and you sure painted a pretty picture. Cucumbers really ARE tasty. Now I'm tempted to steal some myself. ;-)

HipWriterMama said...

I love this story! You've got a little Rapunzel mixed in your charmed life! I am so impressed with your garden goodies. I've always wanted to grow my own fruits and veggies, but have never been quite successful at it. My husband will groan at the apparent waste of land space, but now I'm inspired to try again this year.

goddess of clarity said...

Wow, you've really inspired me (not to cumuber theivery, though it may yet come to that). I love the sound of your garden, with its berries and pumpkin patches. I'm trying my hand at veggies for the first time; I planted a raised bed with tomatos, lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers last week. It's my salad garden. The herb container garden stubbornly remains a bucket of dirt.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Goddess: You have my full sympathies. I have ended up buying some plant starts just to have something in various spots. It's hard for Lucia to understand that seeds take time and some seeds just don't want to come up. I'm impressed that you have a raised bed. I'm hoping for raised beds in the future.

HipWriterMama: I didn't make the Rapunzel connection before. Thanks! It's exactly how I felt. By the way, my theory as to why Rapunzel was able to grow such long hair in a short amount of time was because of the rampion her mothe craved while pregnant.

Lady K: I love the idea of golf courses turned into gardens. I doubt the golfers would agree with me, though.

limpy99 said...

For some reason I am now intensely curious as to who the patron saint of cucumbers might be.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Limpy99: If this were a just world, Uncumber would be the patron saint of cucumbers. Hey, it's not so far-fetched when you consider that St. Vitus is invoked against oversleeping because of that rooster thrown into the boiling vat of oil along with him.

Lone Star Ma said...

MMMMMM...Rampion.......!!!!!!!!!!!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Hey it is all coming out now! You are nothing but a low-life West Virginian cucumber thief! Shame on you! You are a bad bad girl and you need a good spanking and I will happily mete out the punishment before sending you straight to bed without a cucumber!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Pudding: I've had enough spankings for one life-time. But thank you for offering. I always thought that "Spare the rod and spoil the child" was a bit off the mark. It was an injunction, i.e. "You should spare the rod and you should spoil the child." Rah!

LSM: What ever are we going to do with YP??

Lone Star Ma said...

We could have a bunch of naughty children spank some sense into him. I know some.

Mary Lee said...

I was a cherry tomato thief. Every summer morning when I set off early on my bike to teach swimming lessons, I popped the ripest cherry tomatoes in my mouth for a post-breakfast/pre-lunch treat. MMMmmm...nothing better than tomatoes right off the vine.

One day at lunch, Mom wondered out loud why the tomatoes never seemed to get ripe...

I don't remember if I admitted my "crime," or simply started sharing the cherry tomatoes with the rest of the family.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Mary Lee: That's funny! Do you think your mom suspected and was trying to give you a graceful way out?