To Start Gardens: On Mothers and Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms


The world is strange sometimes. My mother started a garden. Stranger things have happened to be sure; countries have gone bankrupt, periodically it has rained frogs in Costa Rica or some such tropical place, and we are all walking around with our heads in space and our feet stuck to a magnetic ball. But, you know, it is the small and personal things that seem the most confounding.

But why is it strange? It is strange because when I remembered the eggplants of my childhood, tucked amidst the flowers in our front yard, and asked my mother why we didn’t grow things anymore, she said, “It takes too much time. I’m not interested.” Strange because when I lived here for one-and-a-half years in the recent past, not a single thing changed in the landscaping. The backyard stayed dirt, the front yard stayed bark, and the old library card catalogue stayed pushed up against the exterior staircase, creaking and warping in the wind and rain.


It is strange because now that there are citrus trees in the front yard, vegetables in the back yard, and the old library card catalogue has been hacked to parts and is ready for the dump, it becomes easy to believe that “everything is changing.” Everything is changing. Exchange of energy and matter–like ya do; that’s physics, kids. But change occurs at variable rates, and in some ways, everything is not changing.

The refrigerator remains a cross between the Leaning Tower of Pisa and an expertly played game of Tetris, or maybe it’s more like Jenga, because the whole thing is prone to collapse when you reach for the green beans, or anything for that matter. Our black lab still lives one one side of the house, and me on the other. We still nod hello while I try to avoid her welcome licks, and I still wind up sneezing like an old man with a moustache and losing thirty percent of my respiratory function as a result of her presence. I still don’t understand my mother. I still have no idea what it means; to “live” “with” another person. How not to interpret what she expresses as sadness. How not to embellish my own experience in relation to what I see in her. How to share dreams and hopes and fears without judgment or preconception. How to be honest without being hurtful.


But this is what mothers are for. To surprise us. To show us where to work with ourselves. To support us. To scare us. To care for us. To start gardens. To put ourselves side-by-side, over a meal grown by one and cooked by the other. To bring all of our love and miscommunications and aspirations to the table and be real–when it is blissful; when it is dreadful; when it is strange and personal. This is the work of mothers and daughters.


Recipe after the jump…

Continue reading