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.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

welcome to bean world

The beans are flourishing, and I am beginning to think maybe I planted too many of them. There are two trellises of pole beans and two beds of bush beans. The bush bean seed packet contained a few random pole beans put there by some trickster seed packet packer somewhere, so there are also pole beans sprawling around among their more upright and conscientious relatives and making awkward late night take-over moves, ambitious climbers with no place to go.The horizontal cross bar on one of the trellises -- an eight foot long 2"x 2" milled from island spruce -- sagged and sagged until at last it snapped in half under the weighty morass of twisted vines, spreading leaves and dangling beans. I don't care, though.
Every other morning I work my way around this trellis, parting a dense jungle of leaves and dodging bees to peer as deeply into bean world as I dare. The challenge is making sense of such manic, burgeoning complexity. I can only see parts of beans amid fractured shards of shadow and sunlight. They are rarely dangling properly as they are supposed to, more often wedged up behind the trellis netting or lolling across a twisted bunch of leaves. Some of them do hide in plain sight, growing larger and larger until even the most distracted seeker could find them, gigantic foot-long beans, cartoon beans, beans guaranteed to get your attention no matter what.
I begin my every-other morning bean harvest with a slow, patient, systematic search for normal-size beans. Be mindful, I tell myself. Be Zen-like. Appreciate the beans. Let the beans be your teacher. But pretty soon my disciplined approach breaks down into something primitive, Lord of the Flies-ish. Even though it's early, the garden is hot, and there are mosquitoes about, and my hands have a mind of their own. Half way around the trellis they assert themselves, not at all mindfully. Whatever they locate by accident, they take. Whatever they miss, they miss and don't even know it. My hands are in a hurry, and greedy. They are focused on the bottom line. So many beans! they think. Let's get this over with. My hands get impatient and they don't look back.
Later we eat a few of these many, many beans, which Greg has sautéed in olive oil with garlic and tomatoes. Briefly, I manage to allow a tiny sliver of amazement. What we are eating here -- what is giving us sustenance and keeping us from hunger -- these green beans, our daily bread -- came directly into our kitchen and thence onto our supper plates from the combination of seeds and dirt and sun and water and season: a miraculous harvest, even if there's a part of me that takes it for granted every single time.


Piecefulafternoon said...

Lovely trip through bean world.

Gwendolyn said...

Wonderful. And there's no such thing as too many beans! I remember the unstoppable rows of beans in my parent's garden growing up - we'd make jars and jars of spicy, dill pickled beans, which make the best reading snacks ever.