This is the seventh installment of Sunday Dinners, a biweekly column from our own Tom Hirschfeld featuring his gorgeous photography, stunning Indiana farm, and mouthwatering family meals.
Today: Tom tells us about the two little reasons he will always garden.
It all starts with peas, well, at least for us it did. It really is that simple.
It is late in the day when I walk around from the back of the house after I finish cutting the grass. What I see is Vivian, standing at the edge of the pea patch, eating, and eating, pea after perfectly sugary and ripe pea. The intensity in her little blue eyes and the smile on her lips says it all.
At that moment I knew I would always garden.
I have grown vegetables and fruit for years. I don’t necessarily like the work but I always like the results. It allows me to grow food I can’t buy at the grocery. So I do. It is the freshest ingredients I can find and, as a chef, that is what I am supposed to do, you know: search out the freshest ingredients.
It goes deeper though. Like when I watch Vivian put her hand behind a pea and lift. She isn’t weighing it but more checking for the right plumpness. She can work her way through the patch picking only the best of the best pods. She cracks them open while talking, she is always talking, and looks over at the dogs playing and never really pays attention to what she is doing with the peas in her hands. Rest assured though, nary a pea falls to the ground and once the pod is cracked she lifts it to her mouth and shoots her head back emptying the tiny green balls into her mouth just like she is an old soul in the green pea game. She is only six years old.
Don’t for a minute think Lynnie, my four year old, hasn’t gotten in on the game. She can pick carrots like no tomorrow, soft ground or hard. She wraps her little fingers into the green tops and gently wiggles until the carrot pops loose without breaking. She does the same with parsnips. Then she washes them over at the water spigot, the skins so thin she doesn’t need to peel them, and wanders around like she has a cigar in her mouth, chewing and savoring each orangie bite.
The notion is that all these little things become habit, just like standing next to me on a chair at the counter and learning to make biscuits, pie crust or pasta noodles. Or just like today, when Vivian discovered the joy of tea made with fresh chamomile flowers. Sure, it may not seem like much, but then eventually they all add up to a much bigger sum.
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