Idea: kids pick up lunch on the way to school

A few remaining peppers hang ripening on the vine.(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 10/18/2013)

It’s nearly 7 a.m. The sun soon will come into view. Not long ago, I would sat on the back porch to read. Now I am glad the electronic paper on which I write has its own illumination.

[pullquote]“Seven out of 10 people will live in a city by 2050,” Meaghan Parker, writer/editor at the Woodrow Wilson Center.[/pullquote]

A school bus passes my home, right on time. It will stop in a hundred yards or so to pick up several students and carry them to brick-walled institutions of learning. Would that it take them to a forest or a garden. I live in a county where agriculture is one of the two main industries, so a smaller percentage of our kids than, say, Baltimore’s or New York’s, think food comes from a Food Lion, but even a few are too many.

The stream beside our back porch looks and sounds cooler these days. The Forest of Brown-eyed Susans and Echinacea has withered, as have the clumps of Hostas, their tall purple bell-bearing stalks nearly completely bereft of their autumn royalty.

Over the weeks, I’ve collected images of the many flowers my spouse has grown – the better for her to see them in winter, while waiting for the new crop.

A solitary cabbage remains to be turned into cole slaw, though part of it may be boiled with some meat of as yet undetermined cut. Maybe a small roast would be suitable, with the “pig potatoes” I purchased at the farm market. (Pig potatoes, for the uninitiated, are small, usually white, potatoes fed to the pigs because they’re way too small for baking or peeling for mashed potatoes.

Brussels sprouts enlarge themselves on their stalks, the makings of several winter repasts. In a previous life, when I lived where snow fell regularly in multi-foot quantities, I looked forward to hiking out to the garden and digging into the 30-foot row of stalks, each holding enough of the tiny cabbage-like heads for a meal beside the fire.

And a couple pepper plants remain to be harvested. One bears green bell peppers; they will turn red, eventually, if the frost and snow do not show up first. From the other plant dangle a few Cowhorn peppers, a “Long Thick Cayenne,” says the plastic tag.

A little summer squash, maybe a zucchini, and some slivered colored peppers of varying temperatures, make a tasty and colorful display on the dinner plate.

Fall is one of my two favorite seasons, the other being spring. The first brings promise in pastel buds, the latter a blaze of glory as though Mother Nature is shouting, “Look what I’ve done for you.”

It’s not the colors, I think, to which she would draw our attention, but rather she uses the colors to draw attention to Spring’s promise, fulfilled in Summer, now reduced to a boasting of past accomplishments.

She has been doing this a very long time, where she has been allowed. Unfortunately, city folks have outnumbered country folks for the past three years, and the ratio will only get worse. Consider, if you will:

“Seven out of 10 people will live in a city by 2050,” Meaghan Parker, a writer and editor at the Woodrow Wilson Center, told participants in a Society of Environmental Journalists workshop last week.

Those urbanites will, if history can be trusted to illustrate, turn to their governments, and increasingly to war, to feed their families.

I’ve eaten some of the “fresh” stuff at my nearby supermarket. It’s no wonder kids don’t like it. Anyway, how fresh can be strawberries in winter, and cans of beans picked who knows when or where.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the school bus could stop at a garden in the morning, and kids gather their lunch fresh from the vines and trees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.