One of the wonderful things about reading blogs (where did that word come from??) is learning more about folks in different parts of the country or world. I am humbled by the quiet courage, the generousity, the kindnesses of people I have never met; I am amused by miscalcuations of a fellow knitter (which somehow makes me feel less dumb). However, the one thing that is evident to me in all the blogs I read is that no one is ever shy of zucchini.
What is it about that vegetable that makes it so hardy, so profuse? Is it actually a science experiment gone awry? Could it be alien food, planted here to drive us mad with it's prolific production? Just what is it about zucchini?
We live in the northwestern mountains, a place well known for self-sufficiency and nearly rabid independence. Everyone has a garden; we share seeds, plants, and receipts like proud grandparents show baby pictures. I have a friend who says if there is ever a nuclear war, she will walk the fifty miles to my house because she knows that I will have food -- even pickled beets.
So here we are, a few years ago, with nearly every farm, every yard, with a fully planted garden. And then the rains came. And the cool nights didn't leave. And, come July, no one had more than a few spindly tomato plants and rotten potatoes in the ground. But, we did have zucchini. Lots of zucchini. Truckloads of the green stuff. All sizes -- fingerlings, pan, palm, cricket bat and baseball bat size zucchini. We froze it. We made bread, pickles, relish. We grilled it. Some of us even dared to toss the larger ones in the compost. But the zucchini kept growing, kept emerging from the sparse vines like so many fleas on a stray dog.
And then it started.
You'd dash into the grocery store and come out to find a bag of zucchini on your car seat. Rush in to pay for gas and return to find a plastic grocery sack of zucchini on the back seat between the babies. Come home from church to find a brown sack of the stuff sitting by the front door -- no note -- just zucchini. Letters to the editor began to appear in the paper, pleading that the zucchini gifting stop. No avail. The stuff kept showing up. The local police got involved. Just so you know, North Carolina has no law on the books forbidding zucchini abandonment.
Neighbors began to shut their doors at night, locking them although we had never locked our doors before. People quit talking openly about their zucchini crop or any crop. To do so implied that YOU might be the zucchini culprit. No one was free from suspicion. Even the local ministers held an emergency meeting to solve the mystery, each vowing to announce from the pulpit that zucchini abandonment must stop.
No luck. The zucchinis kept showing up in the oddest places without a sign of who left them.
The zucchini debacle lasted until the first frost; after that, no one had to lock their car doors or keep someone at the house to watch for random drop-offs. We don't speak of it anymore; heck, it has been nearly ten years. But, let July come around and suddenly car doors are locked again in the supermarket and drugstore parking lots. We won't be fooled again.