A lot of gardens have been raided in recent weeks. In some cases, they’ve been totally cleaned out.
This was not the work of ragged-ass kids who couldn’t control a craving for something sweet and illegal but by older, stealthy raiders who came late at night equipped with boxes, bags, and a vehicle with which to transport their booty.
Way back when we were kids we would cast an expert and appraising eye at neighbourhood gardens to see what was ripe for the swipin’.
We only made small inroads in the gardens we robbed. We weren’t fussy, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, corn, cantaloupe, peas... I even recall swipin’ and eating raw turnips and enjoying every bite.
However, the greatest attraction was crab apples. In those days I don’t recall ever seeing the larger apples common today. We would scale tall fences and chance encounters with ferocious dogs to get at this tasteful treasure.
How times have changed.
I have a crab apple tree in my back yard that produces huge quantities of delicious apples. It overhangs the back lane and I would be delighted to see kids pick and enjoy them but there are no takers. Across the back lane one neighbour has an apple tree which also hangs over his fence. It has large apples every bit as good if not better than those from the store but most of them ripen and fall to the ground unwanted. What a waste.
In my travels throughout the city I often see trees in unfenced yards loaded with lush ripe apples falling to the ground. I’m sure the owners would have no objections to the kids helping themselves as long as they didn’t break any branches.
Where are the kids today and what are they doing? I guess they’re too full of Slurpees and are too busy inside with electronic toys to demean themselves by picking and eating apples — let alone raw, muddy vegetables. Even at this stage in life I have difficulty passing a fruit tree or vegetable garden without tactfully sampling its bounty.
Back in my childhood days, we scraped the dirt off the vegetables and ate them raw, including the pea pods, from which we peeled the tough inner membrane.
For potatoes and corn we would build a fire and roast them in the hot embers. When the potatoes were done we would crack them open, throw away the charred outer crust and have a feast.
Even better, if available ,was to wrap the potatoes in wet clay and bake them. That way there was no waste and the peel was the tastiest part.
At times there were consequences to pay. When totally absorbed in our thievery we would forget to keep a lookout and an outraged gardener would sneak up and reward us with a good hard swift kick in the pants.
Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org