Buy vegetables? Why?
Have you heard the one about the danger of leaving your car unlocked in Wisconsin in the summer? If you find yourself traveling through this state, be sure to secure your car doors. Those who don't, risk returning to a back seat full of zucchini.
That's how it is here where our bounty is plentiful, neighbors are generous, and waste is considered sinful. You learn all the ways to use zucchini by the time you're 12. There's zucchini bread, zucchini soup, baked zucchini, stuffed zucchini ... ad infinitum.
Workplaces brim with crumpled paper sacks set about on break-room tables or front counters. They hold tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, green beans, and, yes, the dreaded zucchini. What do you expect in a state that holds, just for starters, a Bean Fest, a sweet corn festival, a Tater Toot, Wiener and Kraut Days, and a Labor Day celebration that features a wagon heaped high with fresh carrots being given away for free?
But as grateful as we are for all our blessings, at times the overgenerous yield makes us jittery. My experience with the scary side of bounty is not limited to vegetables. It includes eggs.
Recently I pulled into an unfamiliar farm to pick up a dozen. The enthusiastic seller led me to a porch with three refrigerators, all filled with clean, fresh eggs.
"How much?" I asked.
"A dollar fifty," she replied.
Before I could pick out a dozen, she added, "No, no, wait. I lowered the price. I forgot. They're $1.25."
I fished in my purse for my wallet.
"And with every dozen I give a half dozen of these small ones," she said with a smile.
I thanked her and laid my coins out.
She wasn't done. "And I give a free dozen to regular customers," she said, assuming, I guess, I'd become one in this short interlude.
Now I was staring at 2-1/2 dozen eggs stacked next to my five quarters and wondering if I still had that egg cookbook I'd picked up years ago. I grabbed the eggs and walked to the car as her words carried to me over the clucking of her chickens: "Next time let me give you a tour of the henhouse."
Thus, our cups runneth over. You can accuse me of stuffing sweet corn into friends' mailboxes on my way to work, and I'd have to plead guilty. If the mail carrier gets there first and thinks it's for him, that's OK, too.
To one friend – a small, elderly woman – four giant ears of bicolor corn started out as a real treat. But by the time she'd finished the last ear, she was "corned out." Enter her upstairs neighbor, smiling broadly as he handed her his gift of a dozen ears of corn.
She waited until after dark and presented the corn to her landlord, Bob. He had an odd look on his face when he opened the bag, but thanked her, and she breathed a sigh of relief.
However, the next day she stopped her neighbor and asked him where he'd gotten the corn he'd given her.
"Bob gave it to me," he said.
And so it goes. Wisconsin, the land of plenty ... of eggs, of zucchini, of corn, of generosity.