Home Grown

Today will forever be known as the Great Carrot Harvest of 2015.

We tried to grow carrots last year, but either they just didn’t take, or everybody was waaaay too impatient. There was also the fact that Stella was two and liked to pull out the plants, pet them lovingly, and then smush them back in to the ground. Her favorite part of planting the garden is tucking the seeds in gently under a blanket of softly patted dirt. She must’ve figured a little extra TLC couldn’t hurt. Also, FULL DISCLOSURE, I did not remember to water the garden practically at all, and everything got kind of spindly and desperate looking.

But not this time! This time we dug deeply, watered well, waited and waited and waited . . . this was the hardest part. Only a few slim, inedible slips of carrot were sacrificed to their curiosity along the way, and it wasn’t hard to chalk up those brief seedling lives to science. After awhile we actually got used to summer, to running outside without jackets on, the porch door banging behind us. The tomatoes sprawled out everywhere and we forgot about the carrots. Now there’s a tang in the air and the tomatoes are looking hung over in their little tomato-cage drunk tanks. And somewhere between racing the dog around the yard and rejoicing over her sight-reading victory at the piano (I tell you, it’s been a big day), Sophia remembered about the carrots. Could we pick them?

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Yes. Yes we could.

And we got Stella in on the action too, running them into the house and piling them up, then scrubbing them endlessly and serving them up with dinner.

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They’re not beautiful specimens (the carrots, I mean), and they taste a little green–I know, we should’ve left them in longer for the cold weather to sweeten them! We just couldn’t wait any more!–but they’re food that the girls have had charge of from seed to table.

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I’d like to say they tore into them like they do the occasional box of sweet peanut butter cereal. Actually their enthusiasm waned after eating a couple stubby ones.They moved on to asking if they could put more butter on their bread after they’d licked off the first bit. But they were proud, piling them into bowls on the table and gracing them with a label just as homegrown as their veggies.

There are a lot of days the Tyranny of Dinner gets me down, and I wonder why I don’t just give up and sling box mac into us even more often than I do. Why plant the garden, haul the farmshare, hand over the salad spinner to the little one when dinner is already late, bite my lip with impatience while a small hand painstakingly measures a cup of flour. But I do these things to share that flicker of real joy I get from feeding our friends and family. So so so many days we don’t get there, and I don’t see the payoff. Today it was there, like a lost sock restored.

Tomorrow they’ll probably go back to protesting the “green floaty thingies” in their soup, and I’ll either practically tip over, wan with ennui, or slink to the kitchen in a fit of dish-clearing pique.

But not today.

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