Mielke: Remembering stolen peas and the delicious summers of childhood

I was six-years-old when I was first introduced to the world of thievery.

My brother, who was much older and wiser than me, is responsible for leading me down this garden path (literally) of corruption.

It all began in the pea patch. And not in the pea patch in our own yard, but in the neighbour’s pea patch. When I was growing up, we did have a garden spot, of sorts, but as I recall, it was not used to grow things in, but more as a running broad jump pit.

Anyway, it was summer and it was hot and my brother and I were hungry. We looked over at the neighbour’s garden and all we could see was rows and rows of peas. It seemed like the plump, juicy pea pods hanging from the vines were just waiting to be gobbled up by two hungry youngsters such as ourselves.

And so we did just that. We gobbled them up.

We feasted on those peas, the two hungry little thieves that we were, delighting in their delectable goodness pretty much all afternoon.

As I recall, we didn’t even feel guilty about our misdemeanor, only happy, with nice, full tummies.

It was to be many years later before I was introduced to the delightful, straight out of the garden taste of peas, again.

By this time I was married and my first child, a little boy with his father’s blue eyes and curly hair and his mother’s sweet disposition (okay, I’m kidding about the last part), had made our family complete.

Anyway, it was summer and our little family of three was hot and tired of the concrete jungle in which we lived. And so we decided to take a road trip to my husband’s mother’s home.

When we walked into her cozy farmhouse kitchen the smell of bread baking assaulted our nostrils pleasantly. Suddenly, all three of us felt faint and hungry, like we needed food at once.

My mother-in-law obliged.

My husband’s mother defied all myths about evil women who wear the title of mother-in-law. She was full of kindness of spirit and I liked to think she liked me even when my housekeeping skills were below par, I couldn’t put a zipper in a pair of pants or darn socks or even make bread.

I never did know for sure if she did like me in spite of those things, but one thing I did know for sure.

She loved my children completely and unconditionally. And to me, that slid her right up to the top of my own personal sliding scale of wonderful people.

Anyway, on this particular day in summer, when the honeybees were buzzing around the roses outside her kitchen and her laundry hung on the line, smelling all sweet and clean like summer, she was sitting at the table shelling peas.

And suddenly, as I looked at her doing that simple, menial task, I was six-years-old again, crouching in the pea patch with my brother, as we filled our hands and our tummies with the forbidden bounty.

Fast forward to the summer of 2017. For some reason, it seems my daughters and I, all gardeners in our hearts, but not so much in our heads, have this competition going on.

It all started with the flowers. Thanks to a benevolent friend, who shares his green thumb knowledge and his very own flowers with us, we all have these incredible flower gardens that wave and curtsy to us every morning.

Our vegetable gardens, however, have been planted painstakingly by our very own hands.

“My peas already have flowers on them,” my youngest daughter told me the other day. “Mine do, too,” said her sister. “I have peas already,” I said smugly, not adding the plants already had peas on them when I put them in the dirt.

“Good job, mom,” my girls said, genuinely impressed.

“It’s how I roll, girls,” I replied matter-of-factly, and with only a touch of remorse.

At least I didn’t steal them, I tell myself gently, thinking of Mark Twain who said the stolen watermelon tastes the sweetest.

Do you think that applies to peas as well?

Treena Mielke lives in Sylvan Lake. She is the editor of the Rimbey Review.

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