by A.E. Weisgerber
Soft clumps of radish, pulling them. First one by one, for the surprise of their joyful red brightness, dipped in the rain bucket to swirl off the dirt, rub off the dirt with a thumb, break off the root with the thumbnail, and bite into the crisp, tart, impossibly white flesh. The crispness of the red and the white! The mud, ever ready to soothe a bee sting. Soon, grab handfuls of radishes by their leaves, tug out all the bulbs, wash and arrange them in a bowl later, make some pioneer still life near a basket of butter lettuce.
Next to the radish line bloom the bush-rows of lima beans, their pendent pods soft crescents swelling, their soft centers plumping. Lima beans from the garden, steamed with salt and rough- ground peppercorns. These are not the lima beans I once knew, lima beans of my people, frozen into rectangular crumbles, with fuzz-frosted ice edges, in wax paper and a white waxed- cardboard box with interlocking flaps, boiled to contraction inside wrinkle-skin, the seed coats slipping off and sticking to teeth.
These are the Kentucky Wonder—Kentucky Wonder!—poling up alongside at just the right size (not so the beans are too big) then steamed to tender softness, taken at the tip of the teeth, mashed and savored in the mouth. And its beauty, vines and tendrils stringing up a chord, the little bean-yard on the patio ripples softly, a waterfall behind our family suppers.
A good way to know if it's warm enough to plant a Kentucky Wonder bean is to go and stand barefoot in the garden dirt for five minutes without getting cold. Kentucky means something like land of tomorrow. I love that, like I love flipping through my dead father’s old Exotica. I am now married for twenty-five years. Our secret is only one person at a time can be crazy. I ordered a copy of The New Sylva for our arborist son. Here's what I think: R. W. Emerson was on to something when he said there are but ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.
A.E. Weisgerber is 2017’s Frost Place Scholar, with recent and forthcoming work in Heavy Feather, SmokeLong, DIAGRAM, great weather for MEDIA, Gravel Mag, and Zoetrope Cafe’s Story Machine. Follow @aeweisgerber or visit anneweisgerber.com.