I dreamed about zucchini last night. They were marching in lockstep on spindly, green legs—rows upon rows of them passing in review, like Red Square troops. I saluted them with dubious pride, feeling responsible for their robust size and shape. When I woke, I flipped through my diary, recalling the summer I spent harvesting, cooking, baking, chopping, freezing and relinquishing more zucchini than I ever imagined.
JUNE: I am transforming a 3-foot-wide by 7-foot-long horse washing stall into a strawberry patch. The stall was my middle daughter’s 4-H project 18 years ago. Wooden railings on three sides of a cement base kept the horse in place while we hosed him down on hot summer days. My daughter won a blue ribbon for the project.Now, the stall stands unused, paying sentimental homage to our years of 4-H membership. If we mound 4 or 5 inches of soil over the cement base and set some strawberry plants in it, we could at least have berries for breakfast, I reason.“Fill it with some of that nice manure compost,” I suggest to my husband, who is in charge of hauling and transforming piles of horse poop on our mini-farm. We plant eight little strawberry plants. They look lonely in their new planter, so I add some zucchini, each thumb-size.
JULY: I can’t find the strawberry plants among the elephant-ear-sized zucchini leaves and big yellow flowers. In weeks, my strawberry patch has exploded with dark green zucchini that look like cucumbers on steroids. My strawberry hopes are squashed.
AUGUST: I start collecting zucchini recipes: zucchini bars, chocolate zucchini cake, raw zucchini sticks with ranch dip, zucchini casseroles… Then I start giving it away. I use zucchini as rewards for the horseback riding lessons we give. “You rode so well today, you get to take a zucchini home to Mom,” I tell my riders. I give them as gifts to friends and family. I even give “thank you” zucchini to the mailman and the guy who fixed our air conditioner. My gifts begin to return, transformed into zucchini bread and cookies. “I was able to make three recipes from a single zucchini,” one student’s mom says. I am getting desperate. They are spreading onto the lawn, multiplying
SEPTEMBER: Finally, the zucchini solution comes to me just before our annual family fun horse show in the fall. In addition to ribbons, I could award five-pound zucchinis. Better yet, I could incorporate them into the show. We call all the dads into our arena during a tack change in the show, and they toss zucchini like footballs to a partner, take a step back, and toss again, until we have a winner. The game is a big hit, and gives us some unforget-table Kodak moments. There was a moral in my diary, something about the circle of life. Going green? A little manure goes a long way? Creative thinking often morphs into a full-blown tradition? Or maybe it’s simply: there’s always more than one way to skin a zucchini!
C. J. Fosdick is a freelance writer with short stories and articles published in local and national anthologies and magazines. She currently balances her time writing a novel and maintaining berries and veggies enhanced by a ready supply of horse manure from her Funny Farm.