Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Gardeners Are Fickle Folk

Right now, my mom and I work the same job, although never together. As a result, we share some co-workers.

When we're not at work, we're tending our gardens, which include several rather prolific cucumber plants. (The never-ending fridge pickle container in my fridge has not seen an end yet.)

Seeing as Mom and I are both blessed with cucumber plants that keep giving and giving, we're both prone to share the wealth with our co-workers. So last week, when I was harvesting several pounds of cucumbers for my first-ever attempt at canned dill pickle relish (a success . . . more on that in a later post), I saved the straightest, plumpiest, most beautiful cucumber to give to a co-worker. When I handed over the cucumber, my co-worker said, "Oh yeah, your mom gave me one yesterday." (She still took the cucumber, I mean, it was lovely.)

If you grow cucumbers, you know that the vast majority of cucumbers that you pick don't resemble the straight, homogenous cucumbers you buy at the grocery story. Some of the cucumbers look like golf balls, some look like the letter "C", some are real skinny at one end and super fat on the other. They all taste good; they just all have their own individual style.

When I told Mom that I'd brought this co-worker a cucumber, Mom said, "Yeah, I brought her my straightest, plumpiest, most beautiful cucumber yesterday."

Oh, we gardeners are fickle folks.

We all know our cucumbers come in all shapes and sizes, that our tomatoes have blemishes, that slugs and who knows what else love to munch our cabbages and potatoes, that our peppers, cauliflower and broccoli are often much smaller than what we're used to finding in stores. The vegetables may have some faults and imperfections, but that doesn't diminish their value. Unless, it seems, if we're giving away our veggies.

Because when I give away my vegetables, I give away only my most beautiful vegetables. I really want to put my best gardener face forward when I gift my vegetables in a gesture that's part generosity, part survival (OMG - I can't use all of this!) and part vanity (Look at how awesome I am . . . can you believe I grew this?!)

The cucumber story not only explains where my control issues come from (thanks Mom), but also shows the twisted value we all place on perfection . . . or rather, "perceived" perfection.

It's amazing how the myth of perfection permiates our everyday dealings. Even when we all know better, we remain tied to the idea that we must at least give off an impression of being pretty close to perfect.

My co-worker probably wouldn't have been any less grateful and gracious if I'd given her one of the more funky cucumbers. It would have tasted the same. Heck, it might even have sparked some conversation or at the very least, a smile.

So where am I going with this post? I'm tempted to say, and who really wants/needs perfection anyway?! But no matter how much we acknowledge the fact that we'd better off if we could just ditch our unattainable notions of perfection, I have a feeling that none of us will really be truly letting go of the pursuit of perfection (despite our best conscious efforts) any time soon.

They say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. But I have a better idea when it comes to our twisted relationships with perfection: laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and celebrate our vegetables all their shapes and sizes. 
 

6 comments:

  1. Cucumbers are just like people, unique and imperfect. But it made for one spoiled co-worker.

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  2. Seems like great minds think alike! But I do know what you mean about veggies coming in all shapes and sizes, it is actually one of the things I miss about having a garden-- the personality that comes from it!

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  3. Cucumbers are soooo yummy! Do you ship! I'll take the non-straight ones and still think you are awesome!!

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  4. Maybe giving only your finest veggies isn't so much about wanting to appear perfect...maybe it's more like wanting to just give in a nice way. Like when you buy flowers for someone. You chose the bunch that looks the prettiest. :-) BTW, I made the fridge pickles from the website you gave me. I made the regular dill and they were delicious!!! So easy too!

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  5. Haaha you're hilarious and I'm convinced that successful gardening is obviously a gene that did not run in my family. And I also had to mention, we get veggies from our neighbors garden and they're always the prettiest veggies I've ever seen, so I'm assuming they give us the good ones too :)

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  6. My dad used to grow cucumbers in all shapes and sizes, and they were the best I've ever tasted. The ones from the supermarket just don't taste the same.
    Wonderful post that made me smile and think!

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