Last Wednesday night the crowd were all standing around the fire having a few sneaky weeknight beverages while watching a football game that I have no interest in. Just a small bunch of mates chewing the fat, covering topics of international significance, such as what spices were in the rissoles and were ugg boots better than slippers.
Suddenly, the conversation took a more serious tone.
One of my mates, who is most famous for debauchery, unveiled a hidden talent. “Our broccoli is booming,” he suggested, before launching into a detailed explanation of his tomato plant’s prowess since he staked it. His flatmate chimed in to spruik their success with corn. More productive than a caste of worker ants. He was more excited about that corn than he was about the football, but that’s not surprising because he’s a Queenslander and it has not been a fruitful year.
I took his excited tone as my cue to wax lyrical about my oversized zucchini plant and the snow peas that are sweeter than a honey pot.
Without warning our host came from behind to lament the difficulty he was having with his eggplants. No worries at all with any of the herbs. The basil, in particular, was growing faster than the Channel Country pasture after the rains. But the eggplants were a serious bone of contention. He just wanted a few to fill a few layers of lasagna with the fleshy vegie, but he was having no luck at all with the purple fruit. Without any tact, I began describing the ease I was having with my eggplant bush, fruit was busting from the vine as it thrived on neglect.
So there we all were, standing around the fire comparing stories about our vegie patches.
“Remember when we just used to get drunk,” I asked. “Now we’re just talking about our vegie gardens.”
We all chuckled and sheepishly looked at the fire. Were we finally growing up? Were we boring?
Na, no way. There is something incredibly soul enriching to grow your own vegies. Something peaceful, natural about growing something that nourishes you. And it’s bloody convenient to have a few supplies to fall back on when you miss the supermarket’s small-town opening hours.
It was almost a comforting thought, but rather weird to think a sense of maturity may be developing in the crowd. But then I remembered, I’ve been gardening since I first left home, and there was little maturity at that stage of my life. Why should a love of gardening, growing things to eat and look pretty, why should that be a pleasure limited to older people, as stereotypes often suggest?
I reckon we should get amongst it. Let’s have a few drinks, embrace the debauchery and talk about vegies.