Ample Reward - From My Window

Janie Thibodeau Martin

Our two gardens have outdone themselves this year.  It’s been terribly dry, but we watered earlier in the season, just discontinuing recently.  Still, conditions must have been perfect for some things, because the pumpkins, butternut squash, sweet corn, cucumbers and tomatoes have been fantastic.

A little too fantastic, in the cucumber department.  I keep notes as each garden season progresses, logging particularly good varieties of various plants, which plants to keep separated from one another, and other hints to improve each year.

My notes for this summer say “LESS CUCUMBER PLANTS.”  We’ve been overwhelmed by five gallon pails of the garden favorite.  We’ve made canned dills, refrigerator dills, frozen sweet pickles and frozen cucumber salad, plus eaten container after container of fresh spears and classic cucumber salad, but still they come.
Last week, I sorted through the latest five gallon pail full, and had over two gallons of small pickling size cucumbers.  I couldn’t stand the thought of throwing them away, so I put out feelers to friends and a “free” communication on my Facebook, without takers.  One friend said she was so overwhelmed herself she was doing the same thing; pushing cucumbers like the quintessential zucchini grower.

I finally turned to the Marketplace Facebook tool, where you can post anonymously and respond to private messages from people who are interested in your item to sell or give away.  Within fifteen minutes of posting I had free cucumbers (and dill, another overachiever this year) to give away, I had a bunch of responses.  The first person who responded was clearly seriously interested.  She said her garden had been a total flop and would be very excited to get the cucumbers.  She lived quite a way away from me, but I was going to the animal shelter that evening to walk dogs, so we agreed to meet there, much closer to her home.

She was a bit older than me, and her car was even older than mine.  She got out a little shyly and opened the back door of her car.  I tucked in a big bag of tiny cucumbers and a bunch of dill, and a second bag of slicing cucumbers.  She held out a couple crumpled dollar bills, which I waved off.

She was so appreciative, over something I had no use for, but I felt more happiness over our interaction than anything else I’d done so far that day. 

About three hours later, I got another private message from her.  It was a sweet thank you, and she said she’d made two kinds of pickles and her family was very excited.

This little interaction helped ease my regret over something that happened early last spring.  I was grocery shopping, and an elderly man in front of me in line had just a few staples – lunch meat, cereal, bread and milk.  He told the cashier he lost his wallet.  She called a manager who pulled the man aside, and he left the store empty handed.

Why on earth I didn’t just say “add it to my groceries,” and pay for it?  It was less than $20, just basic food, and I wouldn’t have noticed much difference when I paid.  I just didn’t think of it, until it was too late.  I still remember the feeling I had driving home months later, but I felt a bit of redemption now.

Two days later Mike came in with another overflowing pail.  This time I quickly posted “free pickling cucumbers and dill” and got another almost instant response.  “I just LOVE pickles and cucumbers; I would just LOVE to have those!”  We met in a gas station parking lot.  It was a couple, her a bit reserved but smiling while he was absolutely gleeful.  He peeked in the bags, and said

“I feel like I just found a treasure!”   “You are so nice to do this, I can’t wait to get home, maybe I’ll eat some in the car!”
“I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” Stephen Grellet.  If only I had this thought more often!

GODSPEED JIMMY BUFFET – The American singer-songwriter died last week.  In my opinion he wasn’t a great singer, but he was a gifted songwriter and one heck of an entertainer, with a huge following despite only a couple of hit songs.  Besides these endeavors he was a best-selling author, and a very successful businessman.  Most sources attribute his death to skin cancer – so while you are wasting away in Margaritaville, don’t forget the sunblock.  The Margaritaville song “may” have been sung in public with loud enthusiasm by the Colonial Club women’s softball team, who traveled en masse to Bill Brown’s supper club because someone (not me,) just HAD to have a margarita, not available at the home bar around 1980 or so.  Good memories, good times.

BOOK I READ (in the past) AND LOVED: “A Pirate Looks at Fifty,” Jimmy Buffet. Non-fiction.  The story about his 50th birthday trip, a real-live lifestyles of the rich and famous. 

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address:


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