January 29, 2006


Here is the story of the wonderful cabbages I grew in our garden one summer. I was thinking of the subject of cabbages while preparing lunch today-- oh it was good, diced sausage fried with onions and shredded cabbage, served on the worlds densest full-grain sourdough rye bread. I bought the cabbage in part because I thought I might make another batch of homemade sauerkraut. So far I haven't found the time. But the real reason I bought the cabbage is that I was telling F about how I had once said that I don't care so much about having piles of money when I am retired. I need the money now, when the kids are young and we need a house and a car and we have our health and are getting things started. What I declared was that when I am retired, I just need a few cabbages and a few carrots and I am going to spend my time sitting in the sun writing cranky letters to the editor. F replied with a story about emporer Diocletian. They asked him to return from retirement and he refused, saying they should see the size of his cabbages!

So, we used to have a garden lot when we first moved to Sweden. I think the idea came from Germany to begin with, as a social project to improve the quality of life of urban apartment dwellers- anyway, all over Europe you can find these garden collectives. You lease a lot from the city and can build a little shed or cabin and grow some vegetables. And we were there all the time, improving the soil, growing pumpkins and squash and potatoes and onions and kohl rabi and strawberries and don't forget the beets, carrots and parsnips. And one year I planted cabbages and boy you should have seen them grow! Big as baby's heads! Half a dozen beautiful green snowballs growing in our lot. And then one day we came to the garden lot and there had been a massacre. A couple of hares (we found the pawprints of the evil-doers) had shredded the cabbages. From the looks of things they had not eaten a thing but just shredded their way to the center of every head, and then hopped away. I am not by nature an angry man but these butchers really made my blood boil. At that point I could understand our neighbor when I was growing up, Mr. Tuttle, who used to sit at his kitchen table with a 22 and shoot the rabbits in his backyard garden. Sure he was a cranky old man, but keep your paws off the cabbages!


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