At this time of year here in our offices in eastern Kansas, I always feel like one of the luckiest of humans. Except for the heat, humidity, chiggers, ticks and mosquitoes, we have a delicious life here. And I do mean delicious.
I know there are people working in offices where no one orders chicks and ducklings by mail, where there aren’t any fresh eggs proffered in the break room, and where no one experiments with making varieties of crusty artisanal bread. I’m sure those offices all have their better points, but I’m glad I don’t work in one.
I’ve worked here long enough to recognize the rhythms of the year. Fall brings out the jellies, jams, canned tomatoes, competitive salsas (Oh, yeah? Let’s just see whose salsa is the spiciest…) and lots of recipes for "game day." In winter, we have occasional themed potlucks – a macaroni-and-cheese cook-off, an inter-departmental soup day – and plenty of sharing of other tempting treats.
But spring and summer are the times I like best because that’s when the garden talk begins, and the produce follows. Around our water cooler, there’s the usual talk of sports and television, but just as high on the list of topics is what heirloom seeds we are planting, whether garlic will grow in containers (yes, it will) and what might be wrong with my carrots. It might not be as exciting as the plot to the latest TV detective show, but to me, talking about how to improve the lives of honeybees is pretty compelling.
One of my favorite things about summer (the theme of this issue’s Heart of the Home section) is the Parade of First Tastes. In April, the first asparagus stalks rear their little heads out of the barely warm earth, then comes that delicious first bite of truly fresh asparagus from my friends’ farm. Following soon after are lettuce, spinach, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, tomatoes – one after the other in rapid succession as summer unfolds. And each time I savor the first of the season, I wonder if I’ve ever really tasted anything as wonderful before.
Part of the sense of blessing, however, is the knowledge that I live among people who grow plenty of wonderful food. We’ve even started a community garden right out in our company’s front yard. Not only do we recommend swapping yards for gardens that can actually feed people, we’re doing it here at our workplace. Wouldn’t it be great if gardens like this spring up all over the country, and if every one of our fellow citizens could know the true joy of summertime: the snap of a fresh green bean and the dance our taste buds do when they encounter a tomato just off the vine?
If you grow a garden, we hope you have plenty of people to share in the work, the bounty and the gratitude. If you’ve started a community garden, we hope you’ll let us know and send photos. And if you know someone who doesn’t garden – particularly if they used to garden but can’t anymore – we hope you’ll share some of your season’s "firsts" with them so their taste buds can do summer’s dance, too.
K.C. Compton, Editor in Chief