Pruning shears


       Garden guides tell me to take a knife or scissors to the garden when I harvest, to gently cut and shear to protect vegetable and plant.  But I so often forget such civilized instruments.
       I rip and tear, I handle my food in the garden.  My bladeless harvesting guide is simple.  I dig potatoes and peanuts, clawing them from the earth with my fingers.  I yank okra down, pulling and twisting it free of its rough stalk.  I pinch basil between thumb and finger, then snap it up—same with fennel, cilantro, and dill.  I lift and snap peppers and green beans.  I shred lettuce, spinach, and chard.  I pull onions, radishes, and beets, ripping off their tops for salad garnish.  I snap broccoli, and roll Brussels sprouts.  I twist cabbages and cauliflowers until they’re free.  I lift and tug tomatoes.  I shake fennel and coriander seeds onto a sweepable surface.  I twist corn, then liberate it with a downward snap.  I steal strawberries from the birds and pilfer melons because that rich tradition actually improves their flavor.
       Once inside, I find the blades.  Then, I’m more civilized.  I peel, chop, slice, cut, dice, core, julienne, crush, grate, sheer, cube, stripe, scallop, shred, and grind with the best of them.
       At the table, finally, I am delicate.  I gently raise knife, or spoon, or fork, to food, and then to mouth, enjoying the sublime tastes so savagely brought to my well-set, linen-covered dining table.
       After dinner, to aid digestion, I return to the garden.  I weed.  This final harvest—of all that hinders and debilitates, all that steals nutrients and water and sunlight from what I want to grow—is the most important harvest in the garden.  I yank, pull, dig, hoe, chop, clip, pinch, and till.  I destroy with great satisfaction, then rest until next morning’s vegetable harvest.






Compost heap

Asparagus stalk

Cross hatch garden

Datura blossom

Thistle flower

Garden shears

Dandelion seed head

Cracked earth



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