Garden Wars

It's harvest time, that bountiful season when amateur gardeners such as myself can finally say, "how the heck am I going to get rid of all these vegetables?"

I've got zucchini growing thick as Popeye's forearms out there, bloating past prime because after the zucchini tacos and the zucchini flamb* and the zucchini pancakes and the zucchini fondue, no one can even look at another one of the darn things without experiencing squash-induced food disorder. Tomato plants sag like bellhops carrying Ivana Trump's luggage to her room. Wicked peppers drip toward the ground, and potatoes tunnel all over the yard like prairie dogs. I'm overrun.

My children react to their vegetable-enriched meals by making projectile gagging sounds and attempting to foist spoonfuls of zucchini casserole on the dog, who for the first time in her canine life has stopped begging at the table. "I'm a carnivore," my son declares. "I'm not eating anything but meat."

"Meat! Meat!" my children chant.

My neighbor Fred deserves some of the blame--it was he who showed up at my door with a wheelbarrow full of horse manure last spring. "Guess who I've just been talking to?" he trumpeted.

I eyed the foul-smelling cargo. "Our congressman?" I speculated.

"The guy who manages the stables. We can have all the manure we want!" Fred cried gleefully.

"Fred, even with none, I already have all the manure I want," I replied.

Fred explained it was for our gardens, and proceeded to show me how to "work it into the soil." Since I have an aversion to anything with the word "work" in it, I sat in a hammock and watched him, calling out encouragement until I fell asleep.

So now, with my garden going berserk, I load up a grocery bag and head over to Fred's house. "Hey Fred!" I call when he opens the door to my knock. "I brought you summer squash, some peas, and lots of tomatoes!"

He peers at me. "I already have more than I can eat."

"I really don't care, buddy. I'm your neighbor and I'm sharing the vegetables of my labor. You have to take it."

Fred slams the door.

Okay, no problem. I simply go to his garden and place my excess crops around his own prolific plants. What's a few more onions? He'll hardly notice!

The next day the coward sends his WIFE to my house with some zucchini bread, a case of canned tomatoes, and a host of other thinly-disguised garden delivery systems. I retaliate immediately.

"You can't put vegetables in my mailbox," he complains when he phones. "That's against federal law."

"No it isn't, I put stamps on them," I retort.

"I'm bringing over some cucumber cheesecake," he threatens.

"You do and I'm calling the cops!" I storm.

The next day, I call HIM. "What's with all the stuff in my car?"

"I left you vegetable medley a la grand,'" he explains.

"What? It's a bunch of dirty vegetables in paper bags," I rage.

"Medley a la sack," he amends.

My attempts to retaliate that night by delivering him "salsa verde a la not yet made into salsa" are thwarted. "That BB gun HURT, you jerk," I seethe over the phone. "How did you know I was up by your chimney, anyway?"

"Night vision goggles," he boasts. "Plus, we knew something was going on when the tomatoes started to roll out of the fireplace."

Night vision goggles! See how deranged some people can be? Why would anyone go to such ridiculous lengths over a few vegetables?

Anyone know where I can get a catapult?

So I've had to keep all the outside lights on around my house, in case Fred and his high-tech weaponry are making a sneak attack. I know he's up to something, because he's mad at me for my last salvo. But hey, all I did was SEND the Fed-ex!

HE signed for it.

[ by W. Bruce Cameron Copyright © 2003 -- { used with permission } ]


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