In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Friday, July 23, 2010

picking peas

I pick a cup or so of sugar snap peas every morning now, and every morning the pea vines have gotten taller. Now they arch beyond the trellis, which is five feet high. To reach the highest pods tomorrow, I'll need to get on a rickety chair -- a derelict wooden one that's lost its back and is spending its last days waiting to be of some use in the garden. When I snap a pod dangling above my head, the fine early morning mist that still hangs about the vine and leaves showers down on my face, an island version of a beauty treatment in more ways than one.

I wasn't thinking when I decided to put the trellis along the outer edge of a bed. The peas are easy to harvest from that side, but if I want to reach the ones that hang enticingly at the centre of the trellis on the inside, and I do, I have to teeter on the wooden frame of the raised bed, stretch over two or three feet, steady myself with one hand along the trellis frame, and then try to pick each of those peas -- which are clearly the very best of the lot -- with only one hand. A weird new yoga pose. Although you really do need two hands to pick snap peas. So it's far better if you can do it while standing well-balanced on the earth on your two feet. I'd be standing on chard if I tried that. It's what you could call a design flaw.

This western side of the island has such high winds that the trellises blew over during the garden's first summer. We lost the last of the peas that year. After that Greg sank the posts into concrete to keep them upright through the whole season. So where they are is where they will be: what you could call a permanent design flaw.

I'm bringing all sorts of things into the house these days besides the peas: huge baskets of collards and turnip greens, chard, kale, curly lime-coloured mustard, great piles of lettuce. I can vaguely remember all the work that went into this year's garden -- the raised beds, the winter seaweed, the spring digging, the compost. But the pea trellis is not the only design flaw. Some of the raised beds are too wide. It's a big stretch to reach into the middle to cut greens or pull weeds. My early miscalculations put me in awkward positions every day.

But there are essential elements that have nothing to do with either how hard I've worked or how many mistakes I've made: the balance of sun and rain, the pace at which summer has unfolded here on the island, the warmth of the season. Except for the watering, I have little power over any of that. So when I'm picking the peas or cutting the collards my basic position is amazed.


Piecefulafternoon said...

Gardens are such a wonder - all that food right there, from our labors - and the sun and rain. It has been so cool this summer that we've not had any nights above 50 degrees up here on our hill, and our tomatoes have not set fruit - it is off to the farm stands to buy some fresh, local tomatoes.

rgsheritage said...

Your story of the peas reminds me of Aesop's fable of the fox and the grapes. Thankfully you have not decided that the "grapes" are sour.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post. Peas are some of my favourite veg, preferably raw. I can't wait until I retire next year and move to NS and grow my own vegetables just as you describe. The idea of a shower of dew in the morning sounds very good to me!