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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beacon Bits -- Peas to Ponder

Another week has come and gone and it's time again for my weekly pick-up of my Common Ground Farm share. There is such a sense of ownership as a member of a community supported agriculture farm (CSA). The time for 'u-pick' is quite enjoyable at the end of a workday as it allows you to gather your thoughts as you harvest some basil, string beans, peas and flowers for drying, while walking in a vast field of sunshine along the horizon.

I've noted the progression of peas over the last six weeks. First, the tender shoots and flowers were distributed in a tight bunch and so I placed them in a vase as if they were a bouquet. I wasn't sure how to use them but I heard they were great tossed into a salad bowl. The next week, the peas were identical to Chinese pea pods, great for a quick stir fry. The next two weeks they were snap peas and required the string along the outer edge to be removed before cooking so you don't choke, a most unpleasant feeling while eating this explosive vegetable. Then the following week the snap peas matured into 'Green Giant Le Seur French peas', small and delicate, taking a lot of effort to unearth a modest handful of tiny morsels from the pod, just enough to dress up some sauteed zucchini squash and sweeten the mix. Then, for the last week, we could pick all the peas we wanted. While most were bulging and looking quite plump, suggesting full sized peas to uncover, the outer skin was marred and drying out. I scanned the vines like I was playing a visual  search game and used the mottled appearance to locate each pod. As I gave a tug to unleash each one, I anticipated these would be the most pea-like and very satisfying to eat, so I was motivated to pick at least a quart's worth.

Some food for thought: As I picked that last harvest of peas, I pondered the journey from beginning to end. The cycle of the ripening peas reminded me of the life stages of a woman - from the virginal and maiden-like tenderness, to the developing identity and transition into the essence of feminity, to the maturity and being-ness of womanhood. As a midlife woman, I connected to the stage where the exterior surfaces were showing the wear and tear of growing older, but with its inner world revealing one's authenticity, fully ripened for the tasting. I realized just like the many peas that may have been overlooked because they didn't look so great, there was a tendency to make the maturing woman invisible. But for those who appreciate the weathering, the rewards of ripeness can be claimed from within and the harvest can be most sweet.

"Worth the Wait"
1/2 cup mature peas
1 small bunch field lettuce, shredded
3 scallions, chopped
Wilt all ingredients together in a pan with 1 tsp. canola oil.
When cooked, add 2 oz. feta cheese and 1/4 cup walnuts into the warm pan.
Serve in a toasted pita pocket, or make a wrap using a whole wheat tortilla.

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