Fresh Green Pea Season
It’s Pea Season! And we’ve been hauling huge bags of them home from the farmers market every week. My favourite way to enjoy summer peas is to simply fill a large bowl with fresh, cold, crunchy pea pods, shell one, pop the succulent little morsels straight into my mouth, savour them thoroughly, and gluttonously carry on until the whole bowl is empty. Mmmmm… they are such a delicious summer treat.
My Mother’s Vegetable Garden
One of my greatest summertime childhood joys was the daily inspection I undertook of my mother’s incredibly beautiful and bountiful backyard vegetable garden. Even as a wee child, her garden completely fascinated me. Every morning, I carefully threaded through the rows, taking stock of what was new and marveling at how fast everything mushroomed up overnight. An endless source of summer delight, it was something I did once or twice a day through my entire childhood (and every time I visited as an adult thereafter).
My mother is an incredible vegetable gardener. She has a super green thumb and an almost uncanny ability to make plants flourish under her attentive eye. At the peak of her gardening days, she grew all sorts of vegetables: lettuces of all kinds, carrots, radishes, beets, potatoes, cabbage, spinach, chard, broccoli, celery, green beans, different kinds of onions, garlic, cucumbers, pattypan squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini, pumpkins, corn, herbs and her prized tomatoes. Summertime was a veritable cornucopia of gorgeous fresh vegetables at our house. And I loved all of it.
The Pea Patch
Everything about my mother’s garden delighted me, but the pea patch excited me most. Each summer, for as long as I can remember, I trolled it regularly with great anticipation, watching and waiting for those first flat pea pods to plump up enough to eat. And when they finally did, I would often be found standing smack-dab in the middle of the pea patch, plucking fresh, sweet pea pods, shelling and devouring oodles of them on the spot. The tender, succulent, sweet green peas were as yummy to me as any candy. There is no better way to eat fresh peas.
One of my childhood chores (and one I loved) when pea harvest time rolled around was picking and shelling large bucketfuls of green peas. My father loved shelling peas too. On hot sunny days in mid-summer, he and I would often sit together on a blanket spread over the grass in the cool shade of our apple tree, quietly enjoying the repetitive, meditative task of shelling peas as we listened to the robin’s song, the bees buzzing and the dragonflies whizzing about the nearby flower patch.
Faced with a sizable bucket brimming with peas to shell, the beginning always felt a bit daunting. The very first shelled peas thudded a hollow sound as they hit the bottom and rolled about my empty bowl, signifying all the work ahead. But bit by bit, pea by pea, the bowl slowly filled and the peas silently piled up.
Of course, just how quickly that bowl filled up with shelled peas depended greatly on how many of them I tossed into my mouth as I worked. I often ate more than I shelled. I couldn’t resist—my hand flew up to my mouth before I even knew it! (I also considered eating some of them to be a perk for my conscripted services.)
My father, on the other hand, was a fast and focused pea-sheller and he prided himself on always being the first to finish his much larger bucket of peas. He would point at my paltry collection of shelled peas and lovingly laugh as he’d help me finish shelling my quota. So connected in my mind is shelling peas with the lazy, hazy, happy days of those endlessly long and delicious childhood summers, that, to this day, I still love shelling peas outdoors on a warm summer’s day.
My father is no longer here in body, but I often feel his gentle, fun-loving presence around me, especially on a warm summer’s day when I’m shelling peas.
Farmers Market Green Peas, photograph by madlyinlovewithlife;
© 2014 madlyinlovewithlife
Peas, CC by Tom Heller via Flickr
Peas, CC by Dayna McIsaac via Flickr
Les Petite Pois, CC by sophie & cie via Flickr