I know we haven’t been together all that long, A couple of months, maybe. Perhaps slightly longer if you count those early summer days when you were just a young plant, budding out of the rich dirt in row #5 of the garden, soaking up the first warmth of the May sun and shivering through the cool May nights.
But a few months is enough. As much as both of us might like to ignore the looming truth, our relationship has run its course. The early summer love has given away to late summer exhaustion. And I’ll be honest, Zucchini.
It’s not me, it’s you.
You’re impossible. You think the garden revolves around you. You demand space, so I try to give it. I plant you with five times the space I give to the rest of the plants, knowing you need it, hoping it will help you grow, help you develop into the squash plant you were meant to be. I give you space hoping it will allow you to reach your true zucchini potential. Yet no matter how much space I give you, Zucchini, it’s never enough. You always demand more and then go to any extreme to get it. You shove the pepper plants out of the way, as if they were ants daring to cross the path of a giant. You beat the eggplant down with your shade, laughing all the while. You creep into the carrot rows and slowly eat them up, even though you have no business that far out and the carrots – those poor carrots – have never done anything to you.
And then…and then Zucchini, you pull a switcheroo. You pull a fast one on me. Two-faced plant that you are, you go from demanding your space to being the neediest plant in the garden. You throw out flowers with more drama than a pack of teenage girls the week before prom. “Oh! Here! Look at me! Oh, look at me again! And again! Oh, look, I made you FIVE HUNDRED more flowers!” And as if the flowers weren’t enough you start in with the fruit. It’s nice at first, Zucchini. I have to admit that. So much attention, so many gifts from a plant who’s clever enough to start giving before the rest of them. You’re wooing me with your squash before the tomatoes have even thought about entering the game, and I’m excitedly picking your first green fruit while the string beans are just beginning to flower. But you just don’t know when to stop, Zucchini. You just can’t handle not being the center of attention.
It’s probably not polite to compare Zucchini, but look at the tomato. Sure, he’s a little slower to develop, a little slower to hit his stride, but when he does, he gives amazing fruit (just like you) and in amazing quantities (just like you.) But you know what the difference is, Zucchini? Independence. The tomato and I, we get along swimmingly. He does a little better if I look after him, I’m a little happier if I have him.
But you know what happens if I take a day off from Tomato, Zucchini?
He goes about his merry tomato plant business, soaking up the sun, hanging out in his cage, and absolutely nothing happens. He’s all right. I’m all right. And a day (or two, or…*gasp* three) later we get back together and everything’s fine. He’s happy. I’m happy. Everyone’s happy.
You know what happens if I leave you for a day, Zucchini?
You completely lose your mind. You throw out flowers and fruit right and left as if by throwing out just one more flower, one more zucchini, you’ll remind me that I should be there with you, every waking moment of every day. And then, when that doesn’t work, you sink into a deep zucchini depression and sit there on your squash couch eating potato chips (which you probably stole from the potatoes by creeping into their row) and drinking bee-pollen soda and the next thing I know, when I return just 24 hours later, you’ve put on a bunch of weight. I mean, really, Zucchini, you look like you weigh 300 pounds, moping about with your face in the dirt, moaning, “Why doesn’t she come for meeeee?”
It’s pathetic, Zucchini. Any other vegetable can handle not being the center of my universe for a day, or two, or even three. But not you, Zuke. You need me to be out there every rotation of the sun, oohing and ahhing over every single fruit you produce, and when I don’t…well, let’s be honest, Zucchini. You turn into a fatty. And no matter what folks say, looks matter. No one wants a 300 pound zucchini, Zucchini.
You’ve got to give it up. You have to learn to live without me checking in on you every five minutes.
And just like you, Zucchini. I need my space. I need time with all sorts of vegetables, not just you. I need to roam the garden freely, without feeling tied down to one plant who needs me to be harvesting. All. The. Time.
And if we’re going to be completely honest, Zucchini, if we’re going to lay all the squash on the table…well, then, I have to admit that the later we get into the summer, the better looking your cousin Butternut is getting. Plus, he’s got a really sexy name.
So let’s call it quits for now, Zucchini. Maybe not forever. Maybe after a little break, we’ll get along better again. Maybe by next spring we’ll be ready to see each other. Ready to start over with that summer-love sort of thing. You’ll grow a new set of leaves. I’ll be tired of the early spring greens and crisp snap peas (adorable as they are) and happy to see you, that first real summer vegetable.
I wish you well, Zucchini. You’re a good plant with a solid work ethic, but I just can’t handle you right now. Not anymore. Which is why I’ll be giving you to my chickens. I know it seems like a downgrade, Zucchini, but really it’s not. You’ll have 14 adoring girls who never tire of you! 14 girls who wait daily for your arrival, who don’t mind if you’ve gained a few extra pounds…in fact they enjoy them! They’ll treat you right, Zucchini. Make you feel like you’re the only squash in the world.
And me…I’ll be spending some time with Tomato. And probably Butternut. Summer is the time for adventure, for summer flings, for not settling down with just one vegetable.
Thanks for everything you’ve given me. (Even if it was a bit much.)
Until next summer,