One of the coolest things about our neighborhood is the general camaraderie. Neighbors talk to neighbors.
On the surface, that sounds so simple, but time and again we hear from others how lucky we are to live on a street where all the neighbors know each other. Over the years, we’ve covered for each other with emergency child-care, extra meals in times of poor health, emotional support and carrots.
Yes, even carrots.
The grandfather of one of the daycare kids walked by while I was curbside chatting with (yes) another neighbor. I reached over to offer him a fresh garden pea, when he stopped me and asked if he could have ten. More specifically, his granddaughter needed ten items to trade during Kindergarten class for a lesson on trade and Thanksgiving.
Our quick search didn’t yield ten pea pods, but there were still plenty of carrots. Not just any carrots, but the very carrots the wee kinder (gardener) planted herself. He came back with his granddaughter later that day. Her brother gave her special permission to harvest his carrots as well in case she didn’t have enough.
Baggy in tow, she pulled up several carrots, bagged them and happily smiled for the camera.
Grandpa asked her to rinse the dirt from her hands in the fresh rain water, and then she wiped them on the grass. I stepped in and dried her tiny hands on the inside of my jacket, because honestly, once a mom always a mom. I scooped her into a hug and she was on her way.
You reap what you sow . I felt such a welling of emotion as I turned to come inside. Ten little carrots were on their way to the classroom, and once again the giving garden filled me with joy.
We grew up eating peas, both fresh and canned. We loved them. When we moved to the States, it stunned our classmates to see my sister and me eating them from our lunch tray at school. Looking back, I don’t remember anything really delicious arriving on a school lunch tray but somehow those peas were edible, at least to us.
Kids would scoop there peas on to our trays and dare us to eat them. It was a nifty party trick. I don’t have many positive memories of lunch at school, but I do remember eating the offered peas and enjoying the attention that came with it.
Now I’m growing my own peas. Straight from the vine, they’ll be fresh and crisp. Inside is the hidden treasure: a row of nature’s green pearls.
Shoots and ‘ladders’
Although I’ve always known that peas were good for you*, I didn’t know they were also good for the environment. According to The Worlds Healthiest Foods:
Peas belong to a category of crops called “nitrogen-fixing” crops. With the help of bacteria in the soil, peas and other pulse crops are able to take nitrogen gas from the air and convert it into more complex and usable forms. This process increases nitrogen available in the soil without the need for added fertilizer. Peas also have a relatively shallow root system which can help prevent erosion of the soil, and once the peas have been picked, the plant remainders tend to break down relatively easily for soil replenishment. Finally, rotation of peas with other crops has been shown to lower the risk of pest problems. These environmentally friendly aspects of pea production add to their desirability as a regular part of our diet. – Source WHFoods.org
Pretty flowers give way to legumes
Apparently peas aren’t good for everyone. Peas contain naturally occurring substances called purines. Taken in excess they can cause health problems in people with gout or kidney stones. The purine converts to uric acid. They suggest limiting any high purine-containing foods such as green peas. Who knew? You can find the complete article here.
There is no accounting for taste. It’s one of life’s mysteries. I’ve raised two sons in one household with identical food choices, but only one of them loves fruits and vegetables. I continue to re-introduce different foods, he continues to eschew most of them. Broccoli is not on his short list. He says it’s too bland.
Today, he turned a corner! He invited a young friend to stop by to see the new garden. Together they swept gravel from the path. With joy and pride he trimmed small florets of broccoli to send home with his mate. He then nibbled on one of the organic florets and pronounced: “I like it because it is bland.” Three cheers for second chances and the power of a garden.