The garden at Shady Acres (planted in a sunny spot) is quite an interesting undertaking to say the least.
Certain Man plants it. Weeds it. Sprays the bugs and digs the potatoes and picks up ground cherries. He cheers on the asparagus and rhubarb, and he examines and exclaims over the carrots and carefully stakes up the tomatoes so that there is no problem when it comes to picking them. He loves yellow summer squash and he picks those carefully and expertly. He has been know to help pick up the butternut squash, but not because he likes to. He does not pick beans. Of any kind. He does not cut asparagus, he does not usually pick tomatoes unless it is to eat one of his beautiful little ones on his way to the chicken house. His involvement with the peppers is to the extent that he tells me when they need to be picked and how they are getting out of hand.
But he weeds and rotor-tills and strings up the wires and string for my beloved pole limas and usually his garden is picture perfect.
This year, most of the garden has been exactly right most of the time. But the weeds got away from him in the potatoes and lima bean rows and it has been discouraging. Especially since we aren’t getting enough lima beans to even bother with. We can about throw the picking’s handful into a soup or eat them raw. It’s been discouraging for Certain Man’s wife, too.
At the beginning of the summer, he decided that this year he was going to have a row of peas and a row of green beans. I don’t often argue with him, but I REALLY didn’t want green beans (or peas, either, for that matter!) But he went ahead and got the seed and planted a row of green beans. I was secretly just a little upset. Green beans are not that expensive, people often have them for the taking, and besides. I have to bend way over to pick those green beans and the hot sun and the way they hide is a great aggravation to this farm girl’s heart. I just didn’t want to have them on my conscience. Middle Daughter had pretty much said that she didn’t feel called to pick green beans for us, and I just knew I would be out there in that patch picking green beans and feeling misunderstood.
They didn’t come up!
I secretly rejoiced with exceeding great joy!
But then Certain Man came home one day with this lumpy envelope and when I investigated, I found it almost full of bean seeds. “What’s this with these seeds?” I asked him.
“Oh, those,” he said. “Gary said I ought to try them and he gave me that pack.”
“I don’t want green beans in our garden, Daniel. They are hard to pick and Deborah said she would pick them last year and after a time or so of picking them, she got busy and I had to pick and they were nasty and I don’t want green beans in my garden.”
“I thought I might just try these and see,” he insisted. “Gary says they are really nice green beans. There aren’t all that many, and the first ones I planted never even came up. It’s kinda’ late for them anyhow. They probably won’t make much, but I’d sorta’ like to at least try them and see how they do.”
I could tell it wouldn’t do me any good to say any more, and I was gratified to see that lumpy envelope around for a very long time. Long enough that I forgot about them. Then one day, he mentioned that his green beans were up.
“Did you plant those beans that Gary gave you?” I asked.
“Yep! And they came up good!”
We were working on Deborah’s library and he wasn’t spending much time in the garden and his weeds were fast taking over. I decided that I wouldn’t worry too much about it. With all those weeds out there, those beans didn’t stand much of a chance. But then, his part of the work on Deborah’s project came to an end and he got after those weeds with a vengeance and since he started at the edge of the garden that everyone sees first, he weeded the row of marigolds that we plant next to the tomatoes to keep the bugs off. Then he weeded his tomatoes, then his — you guessed it! His bean row. I came out one night to check on my pole limas and I saw a healthy row of green beans about 2/3 the length of the garden. I decided that I was going to ignore them.
I fought the thistles and the butternut squash to go over my two rows of pole limas and got about a five gallon bucket on the first picking. I was really worried, though, because there were no more viable pods hanging on the vines. I proceeded to pray and sing over them, and tried to keep after the other garden things, but at least two weeks later I went over the patch again and got — two handfuls of shelled beans. This made me a little cross. Certain Man was steadily weeding the rows of pole limas, he was watering faithfully, he was doing all he could to help the pole limas grow, but it was all to no avail. And I was still ignoring those green beans. Occasionally, Certain Man would lament that “those green beans don’t seem to be making anything of themselves, either,” but I was still not paying attention. You see, I was afraid that if I looked at them and there were beans there, I would feel OBLIGATED to pick them.
On Tuesday night, when the kids were here, I gone out with them and thought that I would work in the garden while they rode bikes and worked off some energy. When they saw that I was in the garden, they all three came pounding across the grass and wanted to help. They wanted to pick tomatoes and they were pulling the green ones off at an alarming rate. I looked down and happened to see that there were quite a few green beans hanging on the first bush of the row, so I thought long and hard (at least five seconds) about asking them if they wanted to help pick the green beans and sure enough! They did!
So we set to work with a 2½ gallon bucket and before I knew it, that bucket was getting full, and I hadn’t picked more than a fourth of the row. Then the kids were tired of it already (they had worked under that scorching evening sun for at least ten minutes and it was getting to be to much for them, I guess). So they went back to picking tomatoes and peppers that they threw all into the same bucket with the green beans. I picked a few more green beans before LJ started sneezing and getting really, really tight in his chest, and we gave up gardening for the night.
I had this wonderful bucket, though, of the nicest green beans I have ever picked. They were long and slender and crisp and green. I looked at those green beans and after feeling so pleased with them, I felt heartsick at how many bushes that I hadn’t even touched, and how the week ahead was so very packed with lots and lots of stuff to do. The evening got late before I could do anything with the nice bucket I had picked, so I decided that I would take the fresh green beans to my Sweet Mama’s house the next day and we would have them for lunch. I talked to Mama, and she seemed delighted to think that I would bring them. I had also made Chicken-etti for the kids for supper (their favorite meal!) and Mama likes that, too, so we had our lunch all planned.
Oldest Daughter and Love Bug went along out to Sweet Mama’s that morning and while I worked on other things, Christina snapped those green beans and Mama fetched out some bacon and between the two of them, they made a big pot of fresh green beans and bacon. Talk about good! Those beans were wonderful.
But now I had a dilemma. There were terribly many beans left out there, and I was coming down with the biggest guilt complex over them that I had experienced in a while. But there was no time to pick those beans. I came home from Sweet Mama’s and did some paperwork for the ladies, and then fed them and got ready for small group. After small group, Certain Man and I remembered that his office was having breakfast the next morning and he had told them that I would make sausage gravy to send in. They were celebrating Certain Man’s birthday and also the secretary’s and the gravy was by special request of the two birthday people. The only trouble was, I was out of sausage. So at eleven o’clock on Wednesday night, I made a mad dash for the grocery store for supplies.
And lest you think that Certain Man was just taking it easy through all this, HE WASN’T. Our chickens went out on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning and the hours and hours of work that lead up to that and then follow it are enough to keep two men busy. And he almost always does it all by himself. I really did not expect him to pick beans. Even if it was something he did, which it isn’t, he wouldn’t have under these circumstances. I did discuss their presence with him.
“Hey, Mr. Yutzy. Did you know there are a WHOLE LOT of green beans out there?”
“They aren’t any good any more, though, are they?”
“They are beautiful, Daniel. Just gorgeous!”
“I saw some time ago-” (probably when he was weeding) “that there were quite a few hanging on out there. I just figured when no one picked them, that they were too hard.”
“Well, they aren’t. And someone really needs to pick them. I guess I will have to see what I can do.” And then I made the mistake. “I really didn’t want green beans in the garden.”
“Well,” he said darkly. “I can take care of those green beans for you in about 15 minutes.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll just go out there and pull them all out and throw them over the fence to the cows.”
“Daniel, you can’t just throw those beans away.”
“Just watch me!”
“No, I don’t want you to throw them away. I’ll try to do something with them.” The thing is, I was pretty sure he had no intentions of throwing those beans over the fence. (Though he has been known to do such things!) I suspected that he was going to try to somehow pick them himself in his already overcrowded, over committed schedule. He was so tired already that I was worried about him. I decided to not say another word about picking green beans to him.
Thursday (that was yesterday) we were beginning to have lots of warnings concerning the hurricane that was coming and I began to realize that I needed to get as much garden produce off as possible. I had an early appointment with Audrey in Dover, needed to pick up some material to make a trial dress for Love Bug for a wedding, and had a case manager coming for a home visit and Oldest Daughter was having a “31” party here in the evening. There was going to be NO TIME to pick beans. I really didn’t want to all that much, anyhow.
And to be honest, not only did I not WANT to, I was pretty sure that it wasn’t beneficial for a particular health issue that I’ve been dealing with. When I had a hysterectomy a couple of months after I turned forty, and at the same time, they did an abdominal hernia repair and put in a stainless steel mesh, I thought it would solve all my problems in both departments. And it seemed to be okay for a decade or so, but the last couple of years I’ve realized that I need some additional repair done. And bending over, picking produce is not comfortable at all. But I don’t like food to go to waste and I don’t like to complain. AND, I kept remembering how wonderful those beans had tasted at my Sweet Mama’s table.
So this morning, before it got too hot, I decided I would go out there and try to make short work of that bean row. Of course, there is no such thing as short work in a bean patch. I pondered the mysteries of gardening. (Why are these beans doing so well in the same garden as the unproductive Limas?) I prayed for grace under the hot sun. I prayed for a breeze. I prayed that the cloud cover would move over the sun. I prayed that the sun could just go behind a cloud. I stood up and looked at the long row. I took off my glasses and wiped my sweaty face on my sleeve, and remembered that people on furosomide are not to be out in the sun. And through it all, I picked green beans and picked green beans and picked green beans. Oh, and I sang some of my favorite storm songs and thought about all the possibilities of the hurricane and looked at my tomato plants and decided that I should take all of the ripe tomatoes off before the storm and that made me think about the peppers and so I checked them and picked them, too. Middle Daughter had been busy getting things put away before the storm, but she came out and helped me just when I thought I could not make it any longer and her good conversation and helping hands saw me through those last difficult moments.
Then Middle Daughter’s friend, Abi, came over and the two of them snapped the beans for me, and there is such a hearty, healthy amount. I have a big pot of tomatoes cooked up, ready for juicing out, and those beans almost ready for the blancher and Certain Man and I got Shady Acres about as secure as we possibly could and it is all good.
I’m not ready to say that I am glad he planted all those green beans, and I think I will give away at least the next picking if there is anything left after IRENE makes her way across Delmarva, but I am so grateful for these beautiful green beans, and I suppose I will be even happier next winter. Methinks I will cook up a pot of them tomorrow with some bacon to eat while we are weathering out the storm.
Good night, all. This gal is going to bed!