Spring peas

Shelling spring peas may lead to a tasty meal, but the process is boring, the columnist argues.

I HAD my day all planned. Nothing important, mind you, but there were a number of small jobs that needed doing and I was going to get to them before the sun set.

Then I walked to the garden and inspected the pea patch. It needed picking. Oh, it could have waited a day or two, but I had some really important things—including a trip to see my grandchildren’s dance recital—on my agenda.

So, at about 10 o’clock, I started picking eight gallons of peas, a job that took me two hours.

I hate picking peas. The vines are low to the ground and picking the pods is backbreaking. But if you plant peas, you eventually have to pick them.

After the picking comes the shelling and although there is no bending over, this job takes twice as long as the picking.

Knowing this was going to take some time, I skipped lunch (ate two fig Newtons) and started my laborious task. By about 1 p.m, after an hour of work, I was tired of shelling peas.

Then I had a thought. All the time on Facebook, there are these people who get nostalgic and talk about how much they miss the days when they would sit on the porch with their grandmother and shell peas or snap beans. Oh, if they could only do that again!

So I pulled out my handy-dandy iPhone and put a message on Facebook that I was on the front porch shelling peas and that anyone who wanted to help would be welcome.

I slowed my shelling a little because I figured than in an hour or so my driveway would be full of cars and my porch would be loaded with nostalgic shellers.

But time passed and nothing happened. I checked Facebook several times and read comments about how that sounded really neat and how much they missed sitting on the porch and shelling peas.

I was giving them the opportunity and I was getting no takers. What was the problem?

One lady went on and on about the days of her youth when she shelled peas and snapped beans with her grandmother.

“Hey!” I wrote back. “I’ll even dress up like your grandma to make the experience more nostalgic. I’m getting really tired”

Still no takers.

By now I had about worn a blister on my thumb and I had shelled peas almost to the point of being nauseous. The comments were still coming on Facebook, but the nostalgia was all talk and no action.

Not that I was really expecting anyone to come by and help. I pretty much knew how my invitation to help shell peas would be received.

Still, after reading about all those memories of pea shelling and bean snapping, I figured I’d give everyone one last chance to return to those wonderful days of yesteryear.

Finally, one lady put the whole matter in its proper perspective.

“As long as peas are $1 a bag at Martin’s, I’m not going to sit on the porch and shell them,” she wrote.

Then this brutally honest woman added a footnote.

“I remember shelling peas on the front porch and it was boring!”

At that moment, with my thumb about to fall off, I couldn’t have agreed with her more.

If the truth be known, there are probably very few of us who willingly sat on the porch for hours and shelled peas or snapped beans. Most of us did it because we were told to and had no other option.

We may remember the porch and grandma fondly, but I seriously doubt that hours of shelling and snapping registered as “fun” in our brains.

Grandma probably had to threaten you to get you to do it. And if you started willingly, you were probably ready to quit in five minutes. It was work and it was boring.

And it still is. After four hours of shelling I could have given you a realistic testimonial on the matter. But, if you grow peas and you want to freeze them for the winter, you have to pick them and shell them. It goes with the territory.

The peas are about gone, but the beans are only three weeks away. I’ll make the same offer when they come in and we’ll see how many nostalgia buffs end up on my front porch with their snapping fingers ready.

You want to snap beans on the front porch like you did when you were a child? I’ll give you the chance.

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Donnie Johnston: djohn40330@aol.com

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