I live in the country, in a house surrounded by a garden with a vegetable patch. It’s not very big: only three metres by twenty. But believe me: travelling over those twenty metres is a long journey filled with surprises – especially in summer, when vegetables grow quickly and there’s a harvest ready every day. In the morning, our journey begins from the green beans. This plant requires keen observers, because the wide leaves and fruits are exactly the same colour, so it’s not easy to spot them hidden among the leaves! It takes a while to check the 3-metre plant, and I’ve often said that I wish I was as skilled as the gardener in The Secret Garden, who would have found them in no time.
There’s a large tomato plant just beyond. Tomatoes are delicate fruits, and need to be picked carefully when they’re in season. I usually fill a large basket up to the brim with the reddest tomatoes. I always think of lots of recipes, and I wish I was as good a cook as the main character in Recipe for Success, who comes up with amazing menus even with just a few ingredients. And you can do anything with tomatoes!
It’s been over two hours since I set off, and I haven’t even checked the raspberry or blackberry plants yet. When the fruit is ripe, I spend the rest of the day making jam. And I have to admit that when my jars are ready, I look over my shoulder to make sure there are no mischievous kids like Tom Sawyer, sneaky enough to make off with a jar or two to share with their friends!
What’s left before our journey’s end? We’re still missing lettuce, spinach, celery, parsley, basil and onions; these plants need to be weeded, which takes time and patience.
As the sun sets, I realise that I’ve spent the whole day in a big small world, enjoying the company of lots of authors and literary explorations between vegetables… Other journeys, each one more exciting than the one before.