In a recent year, the seeds I planted in several adjacent rows in my vegetable garden failed to germinate. Faced with a blank space, I wished to fill it. Always be careful what you wish for! I bought summer squash seeds and formed half a dozen hills of two or three seeds each. All of them grew. And grew. And grew. When I began harvesting squash, I had delusions of keeping up. I collected a few and relished their rich flavor. But soon, I had too many! I was fetching them by the bushel basket nearly every day. I could not begin to give them away! The plants commandeered half of the garden. Each morning, when I went to the garden to pick the squash, I could not find spaces for my feet. From some crazy desire not to crush the thick leaf stems of my gigantic squash plants, I proceeded slowly on tiptoe, almost losing my balance and teetering above the squash jungle. To have fallen among the foliage in such a way as to have wiped out a few of the plants and to have slowed the production of squash would have been a blessing, but I never fell.
|Squash Taking Over My Garden|
Finally, I was forced to admit to myself that I had too many squash, and I began chucking their swollen bodies over the ravine into my creek. Poet and novelist Marge Piercy perfectly captured the same experience in her poem entitled “Attack of the Squash People,” which I first heard her read in 1980:
Piercy’s poem is hysterical in the fullest sense of the adjective. I know. So was I.
|One of Several Baskets of Squash That I Harvested Every Morning|
|Harvesting Squash by the Wagonload|
A digression is in order. I first met Piercy when I was earning my master’s degree in poetry writing at Indiana University. She addressed the workshop of ten poets in which I was enrolled. Our professor had mailed an anonymous sampling of our poems to Piercy in advance of her visit. After she was introduced, Piercy said, “I want to discuss one of your poems. It is ‘Wrestling.’ Who wrote it?” I raised my hand. Piercy complimented my work. Several years later, after I had finished my PhD and was teaching at Northern Kentucky University, Piercy came for a reading. At a social event, I asked her if she remembered my poem. She said she did. I had the joy of meeting Piercy on at least two additional occasions. One was at the home of a creative writing professor. Music was playing. Piercy was sitting beside the professor. I had walked over to Piercy to ask a question about poetry, but she brushed off my introductory remarks, stood, and commanded, “Dance with me!” Embarrassed as all get out, I danced. In a matter of seconds, everyone was dancing. I undoubtedly got more from dancing with Piercy for a few minutes than I would have received by asking my question; after all, she gave me something fun to mention in this blog!
My favorite way to prepare summer squash is basic. I slice it, boil it briefly, and put butter and salt on it. Yum! It’s almost as good as dancing with Marge Piercy!