Cassidy recently joined Pete and me at the ranch for a lazy weekend. On Saturday afternoon, as we solved the problems of all living things, she suggested we harvest the garden and make dinner. I had been procrastinating over gathering the garden for several days: partly out of guilt that I might find more things overly mature than ripe and partly out of wishing the season weren’t coming to an end. This year’s cooler and more humid summer days had help produce one of my more successful gardens in recent memory.
With the movement only a group can make when all members are in agreement, we headed out to the small vegetable patch with containers in hand. First we hit the cherry and roma tomatoes and then the green peas, green and yellow beans, mixed lettuce greens, baby carrots, and finally a few potatoes.
As we admired the harvest, Griz lay to the side of one of the raised beds as if he’d longed to rest in the activity of our collecting. Perhaps he knew he was in fact the reason we had any harvest at all. When family and guests see my unfenced garden they often ask how it is the deer don’t freely feast on it. And I’ve always wondered why the many birds that calls the ranch home don’t eat every single raspberry the patch grows. My answer is Griz.
Every morning when I let Griz out, he jets out across the deck and flies in the direction of one of three routes around the periphery of our home. One path goes south and out to the western meadows where the mares and babies have grazed overnight; the second route goes down the driveway and north around the big cabin; and the third goes directly around the house, north through the aspen grove, and out to the hay shed. He essentially covers our home borders. I am convinced he deters any wildlife from wandering into the garden beds and enjoying the season’s hard-won fruits and vegetables.
Over fried green tomato appetizers, tomato bread salad, and steamed green beans and potatoes we all agreed our dinner could never have been purchased: the deep and sweet flavors and textures were more than satisfying, thanks to our unusual growing season and the garden’s loyal protector, Griz.