Fresh from the vine

Published 6:42 pm Saturday, June 8, 2013

Little Caroline Webb, 1 year old and — as my family back in Georgia used to say — knee-high to a grasshopper — had it all figured out during a visit to Faith Farms’ strawberry patch at the corner of Pruden Boulevard and Lake Prince Drive recently.

Her 6-year-old brother, Graham, was picking berries and loading a basket while their father, Joby, watched the two to make sure they didn’t get too close to the muddy areas. But Caroline carefully searched for the perfect berry, picked it and then immediately took a big bite.

There’s something magical about picking fruits or vegetables and enjoying them right then and there under blue skies and a sweltering sun. It seems that the older we get, the more we tend to focus on filling our baskets and moving on to the next task than stopping to relish the sheer joy of a warm strawberry (and maybe even a little dirt) eaten right next to the plant from which it was plucked.


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My wife, who helps me find the joy in many situations in which it’s not readily apparent to me, still understands how this works.

Annette has planted a container garden this year in our backyard, complete with tomato plants, beans, squash and cucumbers, and I’ve watched her tend those plants with a giddy sense of anticipation for what they’ll yield later this summer.

She’s so excited about this first backyard garden in seven or eight years that I’ve heard her regale several friends with a detailed description of what’s planted there, how it’s arranged and how she’s caring for it.

“I’ve planted a pot garden in the backyard,” she said to one couple recently.

“Umm, Annette, it’s a container garden,” I interrupted, aghast at what the other couple — a pastor and his wife, no less! — might think. “A pot garden is something entirely different.”

“OK, a container garden, then,” she said. “They know what I’m talking about.”

I’m pretty sure she knew what she was saying, too. I’m not the only one in our home with a sense of humor, after all.

Annette’s container garden already has tomatoes beginning to show, and I’m sure that when they ripen, my joyful wife will be outside with a basket, plucking cherry tomatoes from the vine and popping one or two of them into her mouth before any of them reach the basket.

She’s no longer knee-high to a grasshopper, but my wife remembers well what little Caroline Webb has just discovered: There’s something magical and miraculous about produce fresh off the vine, whether the vine grows in a field or in a pot.