During the summer of 2013, I walked on to my back porch with a pair of kitchen shears, a bowl, a plastic baggie, an ice-cold Corona Light, and several pounds of fresh, organic lima bean pods.
White sunlight seared through the forest onto the plush lawn like laser rays from outer space. Birds chirped, but I couldn’t see my feathered friends through the dense, lush canopy of trees. Not that I was bird-watching that afternoon. I was grumbling actually.
Whining would be a better word.
I had never shelled lima beans in my fifty-two years.
Earlier in the week, eighty-five-year-old Eloise, or Ebie for short, my CSA farmer, showed me how to pop open the hard little pods. She’d leaned her small frame against a massive red oak and with her tiny, arthritic hands had pinched open the pods and said, “It’s so easy dear.” I marveled at her ease but held my doubt close.
That summer of 2013 had begun in July with a weekly share from Ebie’s farm, Twin Maples Organics. At first, fresh produce trickled in over the weeks and prepping the vegetables was manageable. But by late summer, I was up to my armpits in lima beans, edamame, green beans and greens.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t whining that afternoon on the back porch about the CSA. Belonging to a local, organic farming community has other rewards beyond eating fresh, local, healthy vegetables. I get to hang with the farm animals and volunteer—basil-picking therapy I call it.
One morning after weeding rows of strawberries and kale, I received an unexpected gift—my first sourdough bread starter from Ebie. When she passed the bubbling beige mass in the Mason jar to me, along with a stained photocopy of her recipe and several variations for sourdough bread, she christened my starter “Oscar.” Ebie explained that she names all of her starters.
I felt blessed that summer morning.
But that late summer afternoon on my back porch? My thumbs were green. And sore.
Fast-forward to 2014. Outside subzero temperatures oppressed. Thick ice covered trees and shrubs. Waist-high snowdrifts filled the corners of the house. Inside flames flickered in the fireplace and I cooked pots of soup, chowder, and chili.
Then one January morning, I woke from a dream with a craving so strong I couldn’t think of anything else—I needed those baby lima beans. I poured a mug of black coffee then headed to the garage freezer where I had stashed my summer lima bean harvest.
That evening I roasted chicken and broccoli florets. Minutes before we sat to eat, I simmered my beautiful baby lima beans. I tossed them with a pat of butter and then sprinkled kosher salt over the top like an air kiss. Enough to enhance the brightness of the previous summer.
Maybe that cold winter morning my subconscious was telling me what I really needed—a reminder to be grateful for the small stuff.