My little city girl loves the country. And who can blame her. It’s a world of dragonflies and chipmunks, a pond stocked with fish, countless birds feasting on the feeders, tall grass tickling the toes, and a cow. Even if the cow is only a four-foot painted piece of plywood leaning against the patio wall, to Thalia a cow is a cow and this one’s name is Apple.
The things she sees in picture books all live in Grandma and Papa’s backyard and I think to Thalia, it’s heaven. Heaven with mosquitoes and a plywood cow.
I know Thalia’s growing up as I see her most requested backyard excursion evolve from the toy bag to the red swing to the vegetable garden. Before we’ve even pulled up to the driveway, Thalia’s asking for Peas? Peas? so sweetly that if she were using the same tone to request her own solid gold roller rink in her bedroom, you’d have no choice but to give in.
It started a few weeks ago as Grandma took Thalia and her cousin Ella on a guided tour of the garden, pointing out kale, peppers, lettuces, tomatoes, and an entire perimeter of sweet peas. Thalia and Ella each walked with great care along the boards laid out between the rows of plants, carrying cups from their tea set which they eagerly filled with dirt. Sometimes rocks or a stray pinecone. Thalia wasn’t interested in the frais de bois or the mint leaves or the kale, but rocks–those are always good for the picking.
“Take the fat peas only,” Grandma cautioned, as Thalia pawed through each twirly vine for the plump, ready-to-eat pods.
Papa showed her how to unzip one then open it like a sunken chest, revealing eight, perfectly round, sweet-as-sugar peas.
She hesitated at first, prepared to spit it out as she did with all new foods. But as the flavor hit her tastebuds and melted into her tongue, Thalia’s crinkled face brightened, telling us that peas were Christmas and birthdays and a Wonderpets marathon all rolled into one.
“MORE FAT PEAS!” she shouted.
By the end of the day, she had devoured every ripe pod in the garden, and some that hardly were–nearly a third of the total crop. Papa had to hold her back from plucking at the skinny pods, so eager was she to continue along on the marathon of peas. The garden is not a supermarket, with an endless supply of produce hiding in a back room somewhere. She was not happy. And so we assured her that we could try again tomorrow. That maybe, in the morning there just might be some more that had plumped up overnight.
We were all thrilled at her reaction. A toddler tantrum over fresh vegetables? Foot stomping and tear shedding over something green? Be still my heart.
The next morning, before she had even gotten out of her crib: Peas? Fat peas?
And indeed there were.