Last Crop

Story by Diana Hobart I knew I shouldn’t do it, but just as soon as that thought floated through my mind it was followed by another saying, “I’m going to do it.” I was sitting on the screened in porch on a warm September afternoon deftly cutting the last of my summer string beans into a colander. I was taking my time snapping off the ends, and leisurely cutting each bean to a crisp clean inch. Doing one at a time, not by the handful as I wanted to draw out the pleasure of taking care of my last crop of beans.

That weather girl on channel two said that the temperatures were going to dip down into the low forties or even the thirties tonight. She said it was time to put another blanket on the bed. I wasn’t thinking of the bed. I was wondering if she knew what she was talking about, and should I pull the bean plants, harvest the summer squash and cucumbers, but most of all should I cover my precious tomato and pepper plants tonight.

So it was that I decided to pull the bean plants, they were dying of old age any ways, and I harvested the last few. Now I was truly contemplating committing a sin tonight. My mind had wandered back to a time when I sat on our porch when I was a child helping my mother cut beans. She wasn’t into snapping them, she liked those crisp clean ends too. Then Mom would wash them, and set them in a bowl of cold water until it was time to cook them. That part I never understood, as she always cooked them for an hour, way beyond saving any vitamins by today's standard, so that they were soft and took little chewing.

But that wasn’t the real sin I was contemplating, it was only part of it. After cooking these beans to death, she drained the water off, and poured light cream over them. Yes, I said cream, not 2% milk or skimmed. They were ever so slightly treated with salt and pepper, the pepper floating on the top. Then as she dished them out into awaiting sauce dishes, she added an ever so slight pat of real butter to the dish. While heart surgeons my not like my mother’s method of cooking, I thought then, and I still think, they were a gift from Mother earth and my earth mother. Nothing has ever tasted so good to me, or ever likely will.

With my mind made up, I rinsed the beans, and set them in a bowl of cold water. At 3:45 I drained the beans, put them into a one quart cooking pot, and commenced to cook them for an hour. Yup they went right through the el dante` stage, into overcooked in no time. At the end of my hour I drained the beans, poured on light cream, added a little salt and a few sprinkles of pepper. I scooped them up with a deep spoon into sauce dishes and added that scant pat of butter. It melted slowly creating a golden pool for the pepper to float in. I then marched them to the table and set them down in front of my husband and my mother-in-law. She sighed at the sight. “Oh, this is just the way my mother use to serve them!”

After saying grace, we all tucked into the last crop of beans for the summer. And I must say, I’m very happy I committed the sin.

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