Although my parents no longer keep a vegetable garden, we did always have one in the summer when I was growing up. My sister and I were responsible for tossing out rocks (a job that we hated) and helping shell peas, snap beans, and shuck corn. My mother would then blanch and freeze dozens of little plastic baggies stuffed full of the produce for us to consume in the winter. I actually liked shelling peas. We would sit on the porch and talk and sample a few of the delicious raw sweet peas while we worked. Corn shucking was just as fun as we eagerly anticipated eating the mouth watering corn on the cob dripping with melted butter and salt later in the day.
I picked the last of our sugar peas the other day, and our youngest patiently helped me shell peas while we swung on the porch swing, talking and watching the butterflies and bumblebees retrieve nectar from the flowering bushes next to us. Any peas that popped out of the shells and missed the bowl were played with by one of our cats as she ran all over the porch chasing and pawing at the pea like a hockey player after a puck. It took us about an hour to shell one basket of peas, and in the end, we only froze 2 quarts. Now this was our fourth harvesting, and we also got a meal out of all the baby sugar peas still in their pods, which are truly the best. However, when I can buy a pound of frozen organic peas for $2, it sometimes makes me question whether it was worth the total time of 3 hours that it took me to pick, sort, shell, and bag those peas. But how do you put a price on knowing that the food you are serving your family came from your own hands and land? Not to mention that the childhood experience of shelling peas on the porch swing with your mama wouldn't exist if I purchased all our produce from the supermarket. So I will carry on this childhood tradition as well and hope that my children will grow up to cherish these memories as much as I do.