Friday, May 29, 2009

In Praise of the Radish Burp

I have a tendency to shall I say this?....a little paranoid. It's not anything out of the ordinary. I think, under the circumstances, many people may feel inherently uneasy. For instance, there's the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, the continued recession, local political battles, larger political and social dynamics over which I have no control. I could list a thousand things that push my personal panic button.

However, what tows me back to earth (besides my comforting and levelheaded husband) when I jet into one of my reflective orbits is a walk to our garden. We have gradually increased its size over the three or four years since we started growing our own food. We have beets, eggplants, carrots, peppers of all sorts, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, potatoes, sunflowers (for seeds), squash, pumpkins, even cantaloupe. Soon, we'll plant black beans.

In previous years, we canned 75 quarts of Blue Lake string beans, and last year, Michael and I canned homemade salsa. We likewise baked, pureed and froze container upon container of pureed pumpkin, which I've been using all winter to make soups, stews, quick bread and muffins.

My husband and I cook (and honestly, play like little kids) well together, moving around our small kitchen and filling in where one of us is unable to because we lack the requisite hands. For example, Michael spoons salsa or peppers in jars, I apply the lids, and he puts them into the hot water with the canning tongs. We tag team. It's perfect.

In the evenings, before Michael comes home, I usually go out to see what's developed since the previous day. Last night, beside salad greens from our mesclun mix, it was radishes: big, red, beautiful radishes. They're still young, and it's been moist, so they're not stingingly strong. Instead, they have that wonderful flavor that reminds me of summers past, when we'd eat radishes raw on the back porch, sip tea, and then burp aloud.

Okay, I know, real romantic. But, it was so much fun. Several times, we'd go somewhere in the car and one of us would quietly allow radish effluvia to leave us, and the other of us would--alerted by the distinctive radish odor lingering like a cloud between us--say, "Oh my gosh. No more radishes tomorrow!" Still, we'd do it all over again the next day because, despite our professed and half-joking disgust over these radish burps, it has become a kind of semi-sacred ritual, a little nudge of love, a reason to giggle.

Along with those radish burps, comes a release of another kind: we're liberated from the daily pressures that weigh us down by the laughing affection that comes with them.

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