Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why I don't eat green beans.

Perry gave me this great idea for a post.

He and April have not received mail since last Saturday. At first, they thought it was just luck of the draw, that they didn't even deserve solicitations for siding or pizza coupons. They received a notice that their mail was being withheld due to ophidian presence at the front of their house.

A what now?

A snake. A garter snake, to be exact. Seems their postal carrier is afraid of snakes and the garter snake that has been living peacefully under their front porch was out sunning himself Monday when the carrier came to make her delivery. She's scared of snakes.

April called to find out what was wrong and heard the story.

Now they have to serve eviction papers on the snake and tell him to pack up his stuff and move out. That's going to be very hard to do since he has no arms....

But their story reminds me of why I don't eat green beans.

You all know I grew up on an Iowa farm. My parents planted a 2 acre garden every year. We had everything from early lettuce to late season parsnips. Dad would plant a half acre of potatoes, 6 rows of sweet corn, 11,000 tomatoes, and, I swear, 2.5 miles of green beans. Once the beans started to set, it was part of my morning chores in August to go pick beans. I would come bounding down the stairs to eat my Cheerios and mom would hand me a dutch oven and point to the garden. What a way to deflate a day. I would grab the dog (yes, I grew up with a dog in addition to cats) and head to the garden.

We had a way to do this. There was a bamboo pole, the end of which was affixed with a bandana. When you had filled the dutch oven, you grabbed the pole and stuck it in the ground where you had finished picking. That way, when the next day's picking resumed, you picked only where someone had not been.

I would pick up a ball and walk with the dog to the garden. Once there, I would play fetch with the dog, tossing the ball down the rows of beans. He would cut through the plants as he returned with the ball to have me throw it again. We would do this for a good 10 minutes. Then I would park my carcass at the point where the pole was and work away from it. I would sing or talk to myself or just listen to the sounds of an August day as the insects and birds would get moving in the morning air. You wanted to be done by 10:30 or 11:00 because midday in August on a farm in Iowa can be warm.

In spite of my precautions, at least once a week during the picking season, I would part the bean plants and look down into the face of a garter snake looking up at me. The dutch oven would go one way, I would go another, generally followed by the dog who thought we were playing and the snake would slither away, just as startled as I was.

In the summer, the ground around low growing plants like beans takes awhile to warm up. When it does, it also take awhile to release its heat, so the snakes would stay in the beans where it was warm until midday, when they would amble off in search of food or to sun themselves some other place warm.

I would dash into the house yelling, "Snake! Snake! There's a snake in the beans!" Mom would look at me and say, "So where's the dutch oven?" "Um...out there with the snake." "Go get it." "But there's a snake..." "I don't care. Was it full? It needs to be full. Go get it."

Back to the garden I would go. I would try to find a longer stick that I could use to poke at the snake. Of course, it would be gone and the dutch oven mostly emptied of its contents which I then I had to pick up. It would be another 10 to 15 minutes of picking and I could come back inside with the beans.

So, dear reader, I came to quickly associate snakes with green beans. I can see beady little eyes looking back at me. I did, one year, plant wax/yellow beans because I have a sweet pickling recipe for them from my ex-mother-in-law. I didn't have problems picking those, but seeing a snake in my neck of the woods is rather rare.

Therefore, you may have your green beans almondine casserole. I'll be very happy with my sweet sour carrots. I can't be scared of rabbits.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


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