If you’ve been following along with this blog from the first post (The Nearby World), you’ve read about our neighbor, the one who’s been planting a very large garden for the past seven years. He’s an older man and every year he says that next year, he’s not going to plant such a large garden, but every year, the garden is just as large, if not larger. And every year, he invites us and his other neighbors and friends to help ourselves to the excess produce. So Rod and I go over there every few days or when we need something and fill them up with tomatoes, okra, eggplant, green beans…we take as much as we can eat or process or give away, but by August/September, there still seems to be a lot that just goes to waste, rotting on the vine or just getting too big to be edible. Part of the problem is that we seem to be the only ones (besides this neighbor and his wife and sometimes one or two of their daughters) out there picking.
Why is that, we wonder? The food is free, fresh and local–practically in our and the neighbor’s backyards. We decided that it is fear that keeps others from coming. Fear of eating something that hasn’t been cleaned and packaged and “approved” before we can buy it in the grocery store. Fear of nature in the raw, too unfamiliar and too alien (is that a BUG??). Too much reality, in this Disney-fied world.
So, along with our own garden produce, we have his and therefore, our reality is that we have a lot of produce to process. We eat as much as we can fresh, steaming ears of corn and layering eggplant and tomatoes and okra in casseroles. I used to can but gave it up when I got a full time job, which I no longer have but can’t can now as we have no stove (long story, but I do have a microwave, a toaster oven and our camp stove is set up on the screened porch, so I haven’t missed it). I use the food processor to process tomatoes for cooking the sliced okra in, it keeps them from getting slimy. The corn is in the freezer; when we want corn, I steam it on the camp stove. We also have bags of steamed green beans in the freezer, and containers of processed tomatoes for soups, spaghetti sauce, salsa…
But now, as we head into September, things are slowly ending. The corn stalks are dried up and yellow and they talk to each other in the wind like old people recalling their youth. The outward-expansion of spring and summer is reversing itself into the inward-spiraling of fall and winter. The days are growing shorter. After the autumnal equinox the night will take over from the day, and darkness will prevail. In anticipation, the moonflower we planted next to the pergola blooms in the early evening and on into the night.