BOB GRAY: Volunteers

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By Tuesday, Oct 10 Life In the Berkshires
Bob Gray

When I yanked on the squash vine sprung up unexpected among the stock shrubs, it came up slow and heavy, very much like a big bass I’d somehow snagged on a chilly, first day fishing at Still Waters when I was a kid. No fight. Just dead weight.

Only when the vine snapped did I get to the back of the shrubs to see what was weighing the whole operation down.

What I discovered were three, deep-green winter squash looking ten times healthier and more appealing than those I’d harvested from the intentional garden.

By some inadvertent courtesy of a bird or woodchuck, squash seeds from last year’s garden had landed in a cool, moist spot, germinated, and sent out runners before I was aware of what was going on.. The whole thing had happened with no help or husbandry from me.

In gardeners’ parlance, the squash had “volunteered,” and in their term of enlistment had evaded the damned, destructive woodchucks and outgrown all weedy competition.

I gave proper thanks to Mother Earth for the little miracle. But while making all propitiations, my mind was all the while visioning a dark day in December brightened by a steaming helping of sweet, brown sugar and maple-baked volunteer squash.


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