Sunday, June 22, 2008

Early harvest, and farewell to an old friend

Gosh, that was fast! The radish seeds I planted a mere four weeks ago have grown into radishes already. The yield is plentiful, a little too plentiful, if you ask me. No one in my family will touch a radish, and my personal radish limit is one, maybe two. I planted radishes because they are supposed to help carrots grow, and I like carrots, but wouldn't you know, the carrot seeds never sprouted.

These radishes are actually pretty tasty, for radishes, but still, I think I've had my fill.

This gardening thing is a bit mystifying. I would never have suspected the radishes would be done already. It's not even July yet! I guess I should plant something else in the space the radishes occupied, but I'm not sure what.

More garden mysteries: I am growing lettuce for the first time, Bibb lettuce, and it seems to be coming along nicely. But, I have absolutely no idea how to harvest the lettuce. Do I cut it? Do I yank it out of the ground? Do I just pick the leaves? How do I know when it's ready?

In other weekend news, we had a yard sale on Saturday. The kids were the driving force behind this. They wanted to unload some toys and make a fortune in the process (to buy new toys, of course). No surprise, they did not make their fortunes, which secretly makes me happy because I do not enjoy having yard sales, so they likely will not suggest it again!

The sale was emotionally difficult for me, as we put our old double jogging stroller out. This stroller was such an integral part of my early days of mothering. I used it nearly every day for six years. It was an extension of me, it was part of my identity. Every day I loaded my kids and went for long walks around the neighborhood. Some days we just wandered. Other days we had a destination: the park, a friend's house, the store. When they were really little, the kids enjoyed the walks as we passed familiar landmarks or followed construction sounds to see who was getting a new roof or driveway. As they got older, they protested aimless walks (aimless to them, but purposeful to a mama who needed exercise and fresh air), so we packed snacks and books, or brought their little tape recorder with a story or music on tape to keep them sated and entertained.

Some days their tolerance was extremely low, and they'd want me to do only one jaunt around the block, and would scream in protest when I wouldn't take the turn that would get us home as quickly as possible. Neighbors out working in their yards would look up as we passed by, and I thought we must have been quite a sight: the grim-faced mama firmly pushing a big stroller while doing her best to ignore the screams of the tots inside.

Not every day was like that, though, and in fact, most days weren't. When my son was in kindergarten I pushed him to school every day in the stroller, with my daughter along, too, and at certain times of the year our shadow was cast directly in front of us for most of the walk to school. If I put my hands on the handle in a particular way, our shadow looked like a silly head, and the kids would laugh as I wiggled my fingers to make the silly head look even sillier. As kindergarten wore on, my son didn't want to be seen in the school yard in the stroller, so I'd push him most of the way there, and one block from school he'd hop out and walk beside me the rest of the way.

When my son was in first and second grade he didn't ride anymore, but my daughter still rode as we took my son to school. His backpack would ride in the seat next to her. When my daughter started kindergarten, I pushed that stroller to school three times a day: once in the morning to get both kids to school, back at noon to pick up my daughter, then once again at the end of the day so my daughter and I could go get my son.

When my daughter started first grade she was big enough to walk the distance, so the stroller began to stay parked in the garage. After I dropped the kids off in the morning, it felt strange to walk home by myself without them or the stroller. I felt like an imposter, like I was trying to pretend that I didn't have kids. People were so used to seeing me with that stroller, and everyone commented "You don't have your stroller!" No, I wasn't using it any more. I could go on walks by myself now. I could pick my route without hearing screams of protest. I could leave when it suited me and not have to pack snacks and books.

For two years the stroller has sat in the garage collecting dust. It took up a lot of room. We would have to push it out of the way to get the lawn mower or the bikes or the scooters. We piled things on top of it. Basketballs were stored in the seats. It was a cumbersome thing to keep around. So when we decided to have a sale, we brought out the stroller and dusted it off. We put air in the tires, straightened out the seat belts, wiped down the footrest. When I put it in the front yard with a price tag on it, I felt like I was being unfaithful somehow, like I was not remembering how important this piece of equipment had been to me. I had a lump in my throat.

It didn't sell right away, and I started to secretly hope no one would buy it, but then suddenly there was a man there with a little 3 year old girl, and she was saying "Why you need this?" and he was saying "Because mama tells me she wants one for you and the baby," and he was inspecting it and asking questions, and next thing I knew I had money in my pocket and there was a stranger pushing my stroller--my stroller!--down the sidewalk and out of my life. My eyes brimmed with tears and I had to look away. I half wanted to run after him and tell him it was a mistake, I still need my stroller, he can have his money, I just want that stroller back in my life.

(Here they are, sound asleep after a jog with daddy.)

It would be silly to keep it. Really silly.

It's still in the neighborhood. Maybe I'll see it up at school in a couple of years.


Leila said...

Loads of hugs... I"m not quite ready to get rid the baby backpack, too many memories of fun hikes, but I know that day will come... so I do understand and I have tears in my eyes.

Radishes: French bread, butter, Kosher salt and radishes: sign that Spring is here!

Tricia said...

I was going to make a comment about radishes, but it seems so trivial after the story about the jog stroller. Sniff, sniff. Submit that one to Brain, Child magazine!

Anyway, radishes are super fast - that's why they are commonly used in curriculum units on seeds! (Beans sprout fast, too, but take longer overall. :^) At our house, Z loves radishes - he acquired the taste for them from his granddaddy. But even he has his limits.

Michele T. said...

I was going to suggest dipping the radishes in kosher salt like Leila did. They are somewhat addicting eaten that way! Unfortunately because of my low sodium diet (the bp thing) I couldn't indulge with our crop this year (ours were very tiny this year for some reason). It just wasn't the same!

As for lettuce, you can do what you want, wait for the head to form and harvest the whole thing (probably best to cut rather than pull, but either would work) or just cut leaves as you need them. That's the way we have always done lettuce, cut and come again kind of thing. And as the weather gets hotter (lettuce is a cool weather crop) it's all going to bolt anyway and you'll have to wait till the end of the summer to start a new crop for the fall. So you may as well cut as you go and enjoy!

besomom said...

Now that I look at my radish seed packet, it says ready in 22 days. I planted everything in such a hurry, I must have overlooked that little detail! I do like to sprinkle salt on radishes. I have some Kosher salt, so I'll give that a try.

I think I will plant squash where the radishes were. Hubby had talked me out of planting the squash because he doesn't like it, but I don't want to see an empty row in my garden.

I also found my carrot seed packet, and it says "guaranteed to grow". Should I take them up on that?

Thanks for the lettuce advice, Michele.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! I still have moments of anguish over giving away our double stroller several years ago when we just couldn't fit it in the garage. Every emotion you described, I had. My favorite memory is of my eldest riding in one side and the tall stack of library books riding in the other while baby was still in the Snuggly (another thing I wish we still had). My only comfort in giving it up was that we were giving it to friends who could use it. Imagine my upset when I read "double jog stroller" in the list of items the couple was selling at a garage sale. The thought crossed my mind to go over and get it back. Now and then I think, Oh, I could be using it as a garden cart....or something. Waaa.


Lynn said...

No one in this house eats radishes except me... I guess you don't want my extras?

I know what you mean about the stroller. We took our crib apart a few weeks ago. The first time in 17 years. The boys used it for a space ship and other things, then it was a place to store items in their room. Then P used it. It was strange to take it apart. It was stranger that my son helped take it apart.