A contemplation on the economics of summer hobbies.
In May I invested in four baby zucchini plants from a greenhouse. Each one cost $6.00, which felt like a lot, but sometimes the intoxicating smell of a greenhouse in springtime makes me loose with my money.
When I got home, I went outside and dug a neat hole in the corner of my garden. I tossed in some compost and some hopes and dreams, and then nestled one of my pricey seedlings on top. I repeated this three more times and then remembered that I don’t even really like zucchini. It’s not that I don’t like it, but honestly, it’s a wet bag of vegetable matter. Do you like it? Have you ever heard anyone gush, “Oh, I just LOVE zucchini?”
But when I was done I stood back and admired the hairy stems and leaves of four symmetrical plants planted in a symmetrical square of dirty brown dirt on a summer day. It felt nice. In fourth grade, my teacher made a construction paper tombstone with the word ‘NICE’ on it and told us we should bury it forever.
“There’s always a better word to use,” she admonished, as she passed out worksheets with vocabulary lists on them. They included words like:
These words don’t describe what it feels like to dig a hole and put a plant in it. It feels nice. On the plus side of nice, but in a low-key way. So I’m sticking with nice. Sorry, Mrs. Gutterson.
The next morning was beautiful and sunny and when I stepped outside seven chickens squawked and called to me. They live in red-painted coop with white shutters and their lot in life is to eat grain, hope for food scraps, and lay blue and green eggs in a sawdust-lined box.
“Let us out,” they pled. “Please.”
In New England, spring bounces up, a reprieve from the long, cold sleety winters. When spring is in the air, it’s hard to say no to anything. My chickens also have a roomy, fenced-in outdoor run, where they scratch and sunbathe. But like all of us, sometimes they just want to be free.
I flipped the latch up and opened the gate, and the chickens ran — sprinted — out, bouncing over each other to explore fresh…