The half moon gourd sits glowing with sunshine yellow flesh on the counter of my kitchen. It’s an unfamiliar squash to me and my family. We’ve indulged frequently in spaghetti and acorn and butternut, but never patty pan. And, I don’t deserve it.
It was Saturday, market day, so we decided to walk the few blocks to the park where stalls from various local farmers congregate on a triangular patch of land in this city scape. The central path, a bike trail on all other days, was a moving cluster of shoppers in masks with bags and dogs, the scent of fresh bread and dill weed, garlic and kimchi tossed about by a slight September breeze. I’d seen this Jamaican-Canadian farmer on previous visits selling his hot sauce, recognizing his Carribean lilt, and felt a pang often seeing him sitting alone while all the white residents passed without comment, without engagement, without purchase. I smiled regularly and nearly stopped to buy, but I already have too much hot sauce in my house – maybe just one more?
Today, he had more for sale than usual at his stall, and there were a few people milling about. His table was framed by flowers and there were beans and tomatoes so we stopped alongside another younger man making a purchase. I knew that I would buy from him today. It really didn’t matter what, but it wouldn’t be more hot sauce. After dumping his large long green beans into my bag beside the minute cherry tomatoes, I pointed to this half yellow moon positioned to one side of his cash.
“I can tell that is a squash, but I’ve never seen that kind before. What is it?”
“Patty pan? I’ve never heard of that. What does it taste like?”
“Here. Take it.”
“I’ll pay for it.”
“No, no. You’ve been nice to me. Take it.”
Those words landed in me uncomfortably and I squirmed a bit before smiling and thanking him. I hadn’t done anything unusual, nothing extraordinary nor deserving of such a gift. He explained that a few half moon squash just appeared in his garden hiding under some large green leaves and his characterization of the yellow surprize made me acutely aware of his connection to the land. He hadn’t planned to grow them, but there they suddenly were.
The land unexpectedly gave to him and I felt this unexpected gift deeply.