Over the ages food has always been a way to express love, or to get your loved ones to come together so love can be expressed.
In my house growing up it was no different. Both my parents were firm believers that the key to a successful family was to gather around the table over food. These would be the times where over mushroom pork chops, mashed potatoes, and peas we would get to know each other as people.
Our lives were often busy. For my parents life was full of work and life’s responsibilities, and for my brother and I it was school, friends and the responsibilities of being kids. Soccer practice, swim club or other activities sometimes swayed the timing of our daily gatherings, but my parents always seemed to pull off delicious wholesome meals, while finding out about what was going on in our lives.
My parents also thought that gardens were a great idea. They taught us that vegetables didn’t actually magically appear in the supermarket and that a lot of time and work goes into cultivating a garden, again this was family time well spent while learning responsibility and developing life skills.
One day when we were quite young, I can remember my brother working in the garden. I was laying out on the grass sun tanning with a friend so I wasn’t paying him much attention. I couldn’t really see what he was doing, just that he was picking out some little bits here and there and throwing them to the back part of the garden. I figured he was weeding so I went back to my Archie comic.
After half an hour of this, I noticed that he began to pick things out of the garden, take them to the house and then go back to the garden and repeat the trip several times. Over and over again he did this, and my friend and I were trying to guess what he was doing.
“I wonder if he is getting worms to scare your mum with.” My friend said.
“That would be funny, but look he is carrying plants from the garden, he is probably just gathering the things that needed to be picked.” I said trying to convince myself more than my friend.
I put my head down and thought no more of it.
The next thing I knew I heard my mum yelling from the top deck. My friend and I raced over to see what was wrong.
When we got to the deck we were shocked by what we saw. Little carrots were stacked neatly to one side, then the romaine lettuce next to that, the peas, beans and tomatoes piled up with care, and my brother stood beside them with a big smile on his face.
“Look mum, I saved them all!” He said with pride.
“What have you done?” My mum asked with exasperation. “Why did you pull all of these out of the garden?”
“The garden was shrinking so I pulled them out to save them for you.” He explained, the smile replaced by confusion.
“Yes there were so many carrots yesterday, and now there are many missing. I had to pull them out before they all went underground again!” He pointed to the garden to make his point.
My mum put a hand to her temple and looked at her son. “The garden is not shrinking, your dad pulled out some of the carrots to make more space for the little ones to grow. It is called thinning out the garden honey, the vegetables weren’t disappearing. “
My brother looked down at his toes. “I’m sorry mum. I’ll go put them back.”
“That is a nice thought, but I don’t think that is going to work. It’s ok you were only trying to save the vegetables, I didn’t know you liked them so much.” She smiled and tousled his hair. “I know you were just trying to help out, come and help me carry all of this into the kitchen and I will figure out something to do with all of it.”
We all grabbed handfuls of the vegetables and carried them inside, then helped mum wash, peel and slice them up for vegetable soup, which we enjoyed in the weeks to come.