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At the Garden 4/30/11; Fond Fiddlehead Memories

May 5, 2011

When I was a little girl growing up in New England my grandfather would take me by the hand to walk through his garden.   Knowing what I know now about gardens and how valuable each inch of soil is, I should have treasured this garden of my youth instead of taking it for granted.   However with age comes wisdom…they say.  Many of the plants growing were taller than me, the rows of raised beds reminded me of a maze. We would wander through the rows of tomato plants climbing poles, green bean stalks and puffy heads of lettuce.  My grandfather would hand me things to taste as he collected salad accoutrement for the evening’s supper in a basket.    He handed me a long green straw-like vegetable.  “That’s a scallion,” he would say “a cousin of the onion.”  I would marvel how it looked nothing like an onion and tasted like an onion but much sweeter.  He would pull a pod of peas off a vine and show me how to snap it open and then I would pop the sweet green peas in mouth and smile up at him.  In the very early spring, my grandfather led me to edge of the woods surrounding his vast yard and point out the curly fern sprouts, “those are fiddleheads” he’d say “my dad and his dad before him loved to eat them with butter and onion.”   I giggled, because the plants really did look like the heads of fiddles and pondered the fact that we could eat so many things that grew in the wild and in the garden.  What magic and wonder was found in the garden of my childhood.  I am only now, many decades later learning to recapture and treasure it.

Last Saturday in the garden while doing copious weeding–an integral part of garden maintenance–I noticed a few dozen of the tiny curly fiddle-heads growing in and among some brush at the back wall.  I narrowed in on them.  The certainly looked like the fiddleheads from my grandfather’s yard.  Immediately I started asking the Garden Gurus…are those the same fiddle-heads of my memory?  The answer was a resounding yes, so I picked a few and took the home with me.   I’ll admit, I haven’t cooked them yet…it has been a very busy week, but the holding them in my hands, feeling the curve of the sprout alone was enough to insight my memories and reignite that childhood garden magic.

By the way, the previous weekend’s rhubarb made a wonderful strawberry, peach and rhubarb pie.  It was a gigantic hit at the 2011 May 1st Tweed Run!  Thanks for allowing me to take the some of the garden home. I promise next time I will bring some pie to you all!

My Pie! -Photo by Ron Wu

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