The Fruited Plain

This summer marked out debut performance as gardeners.  Our new house came with a dedicated, fenced in garden and underground automatic watering system which would have been handy if we could ever figure out how to use it. We had a very casual and expedient approach; we got some seeds and simply threw them into the mulched ground in vague unmarked rows; the potatoes I planted were old forgotten withered things from the bottom drawer in the pantry.  Over the next 10 weeks we were absolutely bowled over by our harvest.   We can take minimal credit for this resounding success, which mostly reflects the resilience of nature in the face of our inattentive care.  How can it be?  We started with seeds no larger than the stye in my lower left eyelid that is currently driving me nuts.  One month later we had a profusion of brilliantly colored radishes. 

I had always imagined farmers in the winter poring over Burpee seed catalogs for lack of anything better to do.  But I quickly realized this a well advised strategy.  We were faced not only with mountains of radishes, but rows of lettuce, cilantro and arugula.  Clearly we should have planted the lettuce in successive rows so that we wouldn’t be inundated all at once.   And I am not sure why we didn’t appreciate that cilantro and argula are essentially both garnishes and multiple rows of each were clearly overkill.  In a given year, I might eat one spaghetti squash, but there must have been 50 spaghetti squash out there all gleaming in the brilliant summer sun.  I belatedly realized that the vines had extended through the fence, and there were even more spaghetti squash nestled in the lawn beyond, looking like oversized Easter eggs.  I am not sure what we did right, but the unexpected payoff came one morning when I was at the farmer’s market buying raspberries.  The true farmer looked at me and said, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?  You look like a farmer!”  I quickly looked down to see if I was wearing an apron, or had dirt under my fingernails.  Perhaps there was a smudge on my face, but I took it as a compliment.

We were immediately faced with how to consume all this bounty.  It just seemed so ungrateful to throw away produce that was standing so tall and proud.  The first challenge was all the radishes, and I quickly decided to include them in everything we ate.  Our most consistent dinner guest is my father, and so over several weeks I added radishes to everything we served him.  I have come to realize that my father has very distinct and categorical tastes, but these can be overcome with a little imagination and sleight of hand.  He is not keen on ethnic food and he will say, “I don’t like French or Italian food, is this Italian?”  The taboo on French food is based on the fact that “those frogs” were never sufficiently grateful for being bailed out of two world wars.  The Italians were simply on the wrong side of the war.  However, I discovered that my father can’t really identify ethnic food.  I can serve him a fancy chicken pizza with roasted radishes, and disguise its Italian origin by calling it a quiche, but then don’t tell him that a quiche is French.  A beef enchilada can be repurposed as “a sloppy Joe with a different kind of bun.”  My father is also not very up to date on food in general.  One time I was sitting in the kitchen with my back to him as he was making himself a sandwich at the counter behind me and he asked, “Bobbie, what is glaucoma?”  I answered that it was a disease of the eye that can ultimately cause blindness, and so on.  I then turned around and saw the quizzical look on his face as he was holding a large spoonful of guacamole.

So I started cooking radishes, cleverly mixed them in with roasted potatoes, baked them in a quiche, put them on the grill in tinfoil with onions and whoever walked in the house left with a radish door prize.  And slowly and steadily whittled away at our oversupply.  But as soon as we finished the radishes we were confronted with endless spaghetti squash followed by potatoes.  Potatoes are about as low maintenance as you can get.  They grow quickly and take up a lot of room and thus don’t need weeding.  And then when its time to harvest, you take a big shovel to uproot them, so there is a little surprise factor about what has been lurking beneath all summer long.  I exulted with my first shovelful as I saw multiple little potatoes emerging from below. 

I was instantly reminded of an incident with my mother, dating back to 1976, the bicentennial year.  There were some orioles nesting near our house, and mother put out some red, white and blue yarn on the bird feeder, hoping that the orioles would weave them into a bicentennial nest.  The yarn went unused, but we did spot the pendulous oriole nest hanging from a branch.  As we stood there looking at the nest with binoculars, my mother said, “that nest looks exactly like a scrotum,” and then she walked away.  That was the only thing she has ever said to me of even a vague sexual nature.  And now nature had repeated itself with these unearthed potatoes.  Midst the black earth clinging to the curly, kinky rootlets lay the diminutive globular potatoes.          

The missing words in the following poem are anagrams (i.e share the same letters like spot, stop, post) and the number of asterisks indicates the number of letters.  One of the missing words will rhyme with the preceding or following line.  Your job is to solve the puzzle based on the above rules and context of the poem.  Scroll down for answers. 

 Adam and Eve on the Fruited Plain

 Adam couldn’t help notice that while working in his ****** 

Something grew large then started to harden.  

My God, it’s Eve, a gal who likes to strut her stuff.

Thus Adam was the first man to ****** at a woman in the buff.

 His eyes ****** over her body, so supple and sleek.

 He was left breathless by her beauty and unable to speak.

 But he already knew the ****** of something this big,

 Quickly he ran to find a leaf from a fig.








Answers:   garden, gander, ranged, danger

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