When my new hoop house was being assembled, the soil to be covered was tilled, evened out with a rotary harrow and then, once the structure was assembled, fluffed again. In spite of this, and without any water, a lone, rebel squash plant has popped up, been trampled flat as we moved rafters and cross-beams into place, and popped back up to thrive, bigger and better than any of the squashes I planted properly — which is a little embarrassing. Weeds in that area must go, but this plant has my full respect and admiration, and it has earned its place through sheer determination. Turns out it’s a round zucchini, already producing tasty food for me to share. I almost feel that eating its squashes will make me fierce and resistant too. I will save seeds from this hardy plant at the end of summer, since a tough, heat and drought-resistant plant is truly valuable in our changing climate.
It makes me think of my fierce friends who have resisted things that could have flattened and extinguished them: one friend is still overcoming a flesh-eating mystery illness and lost both her mom and her dear old dog in the same year, but held a community open-mic on her porch amid fire-flies this weekend; another friend with stage 4 cancer lost her husband to a police shooting, but has the strength to keep her family together and lead protests against such excess violence; a wonderful woman, who is post-mastectomy and comes to my cooking class for folks facing cancer, joked about shouting at her husband to help her find her “boobs”, the good ones, making the other cancer-resisters at the table laugh out loud.
That fierce resistance also reminds me of the families of color who are encouraging their kids to go forward and dream big in spite of the recent resurgence of violence and discrimination, teaching them how to safely respond, how to thrive in spite of it. And the LGBTQ families, steadfast in their right to be who they are and love who they love. While the school-kids who are currently growing up may take acceptance and inclusion for granted now, they may be called in the future to stand and defend their friends and families.
I also admire the folks who have cleared incredible obstacles to come to this country, often escaping terrible situations of repression, corruption, violence, domestic abuse, and extreme poverty. Some of my own family came here that way, fleeing violence against Armenians or the poverty of Ireland or religious oppression against Quakers. Not only do such determined people add more to this country than they get back and commit fewer crimes than the general population (as demonstrated in the Washington Post article “Two charts demolish the notion that immigrants here illegally commit more crime,” by Christopher Ingraham), their resolve to work and raise their families safely and decently deserves our support and compassion. Of course, the Indigenous peoples of the continent have demonstrated the most incredible resistance and tenacity right here on their own lands.
So, I salute the rebels, the resisters, the ones who make goodness out of the harshest conditions, the folks who take root, blossom beautifully and then are fruitful and giving. You are tough. You are inspiring. You are truly valuable in our changing climate.
In honor of the resilient and prodigious zucchini, I offer this kid-friendly recipe, full of garlic and tomatoes, but without pasta or dough:
- 8 zucchinis cut in half lengthwise
- Garlic – at least one clove, more if you like
- 1 Onion
- 3 full size tomatoes or 10 oz tomato puree
- Oregano and Basil
- Salt and Pepper
- Pinch of brown sugar
- Olive oil
- Shredded mozzarella cheese or cheese substitute
Mince garlic and onion and sauté in olive oil on medium heat. Flavor to taste with basil, oregano, pinch of sugar (takes the acid/bitter taste off the tomato for kids’ palates), salt and pepper. If using fresh herbs, chop finely.
Chop tomatoes and add to sauté.
Using a grapefruit spoon, hollow out the zucchini to make a “dugout canoe”, leaving a solid 1/4” wall to hold the filling. Add the scooped out zucchini to the sauté mix and let simmer.
On a lightly oiled baking sheet, arrange the “canoes”.
When the filling is cooked, scoop neatly into the canoes. Top with shredded cheese or vegan cheez.
Bake at 375 degrees until the cheese melts and the zucchini is tender, 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the canoes).
Remove from the baking sheet with a spatula and serve hot.