Unexpected delights nurture the soul and help balance life’s distressing vagaries. And, in the garden, they sprinkle joy over tasks that might otherwise seem downright tedious.
Take weeding. That neverending chore that rarely makes it to a list because we do it all the time:
... while tying tomatoes, picking beans, spraying fruit trees, pruning grapes, deadheading marigolds, hunting Japanese beetles, thinning peaches, pulling carrots, harvesting cucumbers, checking for aphids ... even walking through on my way to work.
Basically, if we’re in the garden, chances are we’re pulling at least one weed.
But, sometimes, it’s the sole reason we head out, gloves on, buckets and diggers in hand.
So it was last weekend. My husband, Kevin, headed one way, I another. As we filled the buckets, he’d haul them to the compost bin to empty and then we’d start over.
On the third or fourth round, as I was lost in thought, contentedly pulling out the undesirables, I heard: “Oh, cool!”
Grateful for an excuse to take a break, I investigated.
“I just accidentally pulled some cilantro. It’s all over right here!”
Sure enough, there were dozens of 6-inch-tall, heavenly scented, delicate leaved beauties happily growing without any work on my part.
Last year’s magic cilantro that weathered the mild winter had dried into coriander, then re-seeded itself, creating a fragrant herb bed in the lee of the butterfly bush — perfectly timed to coincide with ripe hot peppers.
I took advantage of the distraction and headed to the kitchen. After chopping a mix of jalapeños, poblanos and Santaka chiles, a sweet red pepper, a couple of onions and tomatoes, then adding some fresh tomato paste, the cilantro and a splash of lime juice, we had a batch of salsa.
In my eagerness, I may have gone overboard on the heat — my hiccup reflex had my stomach dancing after dipping the third tortilla chip — but the flavor was satisfyingly intense.
We decided to preserve it in small jelly jars just in case we need to thin it with commercial salsa. But in the dead of winter, when it’s chilly, that fiery kick may be just what we need.
What an unexpected treat!