Ode to chard
I have always grown chard in my garden. This year, however, every time I turned my back to yank bindweed or give Rose another push on the swing, the chard plants winked at each other and called out (in a relaxed, chard-ish way) “Now: go!” They multiplied, those chard plants. They snuck between the stout trunks of broccoli, gathered like sweet, doting grandmas round the baby parsley, and mixed in with the beets, under cover of “leafy greens already live here.” They popped up at the base of the morning glory vines, like “oh us? Just taking a rest here.”
And because I garden sort of like I parent (I didn’t plan on Col wearing patent leather Mary Janes with a rhinestone buckle to school, but it seems to be working out okay), I let the chard scatter around the garden like birds jumped by our cat.
Humble and quiet, chard are the quakers of the garden. They just go on serenely growing, unfurling shiny new leaves , not trying to monopolize anyone’s time. Unlike certain tomatoes I know, who spend the summer singing tributes to themselves, then after the first whisper of frost, collapse in a dramatic heap. If chard had a song it would be a cross between Billy Joel’s “My Life” (I don’t need you to worry for me cause I’m alright) and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feeling Groovy” (Life I love you, all is groovy). Its Facebook status update would be: Love being an introvert!
This chard has remained steadfast and true (What’s this? A little Rolling Stones?) through the choking heat of June and now through the biting nights of October. Could it be said that chard has no preferences? A Bodhisattva of the garden?
Plus, would you like a little magnesium, calcium, folate, iron, potassium, zinc, copper and Vitamin’s K, C and E in your meal? When I see little green slivers of chard sneaking their way into my kids’ mouths (riding the coattails of macaroni and cheese undoubtedly), I feel like perhaps my children will beat the scurvy after all.
My mom, who loves all things vegetable, though is more likely to win “Farmer’s Market Patron of the Year” than to ever press a seed in the gritty earth, cut enough armfuls of chard from our garden to fill three 5-gallon buckets. She culled the terribly grasshopper-munched leaves and then asked–while her pockets beeped and buzzed with i-phones and Blackberries–“should these go to the chickens or the compost?”
Post chard-harvest, Col played his four year old cards right and after Rose went to bed he blended into the background posing as “kitchen help” and bought himself an extra hour before bed time. He cranked the apple corer/slicer with Dan and and offered himself up as a dance partner to me when I got so gleeful about steaming several thousand pounds of chard I had to spin around to Sheryl Crow belting out “Love is a good, love is a good, love is a good thing.”
Someday Col is going to confuse a sweet young girl hankering for a slow dance by suggesting “why don’t you swing me through the air by my feet?”
A 3 gallon pot of steaming chard smells like a rainforest exhaling, or like an acre of broccoli shrugging off morning dew; very, very green.
Hopefully I got all the earwigs out.
Lovely bags of frozen chard (see below), and children bonding over all the chard-strewn mac’n’cheese they’ll be eating this winter.