Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Those People"

“Your front yard is looking less dead,” our retired neighbor bellowed from his porch.
“Thanks, Harold,” I said closing my car door, the hot engine still clicking from the commute home.
“What’s that green stuff growing up front?”
Harold looked at me with wide eyes.  “Onions?”
“Yellow, white and—”
Slam!  He disappeared behind his front door.

Clearly Harold did not approve.  Yes, we were “those people” the ones who planted onions (shocking!) in the front yard, in the primo spot right next to the house usually reserved for roses.  In his eyes Mr. Wonderful and I had suddenly transitioned from fixer-uppers to (gasp!) farmers.  And if there’s one thing suburbanites, at any age, dislike it’s farmers.

“You hoo!” our smiley neighbor said pausing before our yard in her sneakers.
“Hi Mary, out for a walk?”
“Did you know you’re the only house in the whole neighborhood with a supermarket produce section in the front yard.”
“I didn’t know—”
“Well you are,” she said with a sniff.  “I’d never plant food in the front yard.  It’s so… ratty,” she said waving her arms with a pleasant smile.

The division of garden planting goes back to caveman days.  Beautiful ornamental flowers were planted in front of the cave and ugly kitchen plants were relegated to the cave’s back rockyard, as far away from sight as was hominid possible.

But times had changed.  For one, people weren’t wearing animal skins anymore and two, everyone was a foodie now and foodies loved… food.  So why not plant edibles in the front garden?  Onions are rather good looking plants… if you close your eyes.

The next day Charles waved from his front garden.  “I see you planted onions—”
Here we go again!  Another annoyed neighbor.  “I can explain,” I said crossing the street to him.  “We love food and why not plant what we love—”
“Look at this,” he said pointing to a spiky purple plant in the middle of his gated front yard. 
“That’s an… artichoke,” I gasped.
“Yeah!  It’s beautiful and delicious!” he said laughing.  “We planted one when we first moved in and now we have half a dozen.  Have you ever eaten home-grown artichokes?”
“No,” I said smiling “But I think I will now.”

The thing about a diverse suburban neighborhood is although lots of people may not understand what you’re doing, maybe one friend will.