Onion Season

But Not at Your Typical Kitchen Garden

By Les Tanner

“Who brought the peppers?” someone asked. She pointed at a box that sat on the bench in the gym.

“Connie did.”

As was common in September, people who had planted too many tomatoes or zucchinis in the spring brought in surplus vegetables to share with those of us who play pickleball regularly at the YMCA in Caldwell. In this case, the box held several green and red bell peppers.

Never one to pass up free food, I picked up one of each. “Did you grow these out at your place?” My question was directed to Connie Weber who, with her daughter-in-law Whittney, had driven in from Parma to play a few PB games.

“You bet,” she replied.

“I’ve grown bell peppers before, but only green ones. Where do you get the seeds for the red ones?”

Connie paused for a few seconds. “Do you always pick the peppers when they’re green?”

“Sure.”

“Well, if you’d let them mature, they would eventually turn red.”

“You’re putting me on.”

“Do you pick tomatoes when they are green?”

“Not unless I want fried green tomatoes.”

“So you let them turn red first, right?”

I said, “Sure,” again.

“Well,” she said with a smile, “that’s the way we get red peppers.”

“Oh.”

I’m glad I’m still capable of learning something new without feeling too dumb. And judging from the way others reacted, this was new to them as well.

On other days, Connie brought in onions and jalapeno peppers to share, and this largesse prompted me to ask about the farm. The enthusiasm of her reaction was somewhat unexpected, and it made me wonder if anyone had ever asked her that question. In any case, as she began to describe the farm and her family’s involvement in it, Whittney came to join her, and soon they were supporting their descriptions of their crops and families by pulling up photos on their phones. Their pleasure was delightful. I wonder how many folks, no matter what their endeavors, can get worked up in such a positive way about what they do.

“Any chance of my coming to visit the farm someday?”

“When can you come?”

“Any time,” I said.

With that, Connie picked up her phone and soon was talking to her husband Alan, asking when it would be convenient for me to show up. No wasting time with these folks. We arranged for me to come to their place the following Tuesday afternoon. Onion harvest was in progress, and there was the possibility of my riding in the harvester with Alan. Thinking I might be out in the sun for a while, I doused myself with sunscreen and took along light gloves and an awful-looking hat that I wear when I’m fishing. Sunshine is a wonderful thing, but it does have its downside. Except for dermatologists.

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