It’s a rare day when someone doesn’t need a band-aid in the garden. After all, we have real live plants! With sharp edges! Today we are cleaning up the cornfield to prep it for next springs planting, which means uprooting the remaining stalk-stumps and gathering up the leftover leaves. Which are sharp. But the kids take it in stride, mostly. If it’s a hard work day like today, a leaf-cut can buy you some down time.
And today we are working hard. By the end of class, we adults are grinning because there are actual beads of sweat visible on several faces, which means that although it is November, the asian pear salad on today’s menu won’t seem too cold for the season. The kids have cleared the field of corn detritus as well as leftover pumpkin vines and weeds, hauled several loads of compost over and dug it in, and sowed a peace sign* of heirloom favas surrounded by red clover to act as “green manure,” adding nutrients into the soil for next year’s corn to use.
Wild Child, of course, is ahead of the game, having second-guessed the upcoming compost curriculum by spontaneously tunneling into the compost heap and discovering the hand-burning hot spot in the center of it. “Um, that’s called an exothermic reaction,” I mutter, knowing that he could care less. His hand is black and hot, and he wants to show the rest of the class this amazing discovery. Soon, there are many, many hot black hands waving to the remaining kids to “Come and check THIS out!”
And then it is time to curb the enthusiasm as we have to do some serious hand-washing before we sit down to eat. At the sink, choruses of “Happy Birthday” and the ABC song overlap as the black hands become presentable again, a joyful round of handwashing tunes, music to this nurse’s ears.
Asian Pear-Mint Salad
Have about five kids each chop up an asian pear. Try to keep this task happening even when one of the kids finds a live worm in her pear. Marvel at the variety of sizes of chunks that result.
Whichever kid finishes her pear first can squeeze the juice from one and a half lemons into the bowl of pear chunks.
Gather a large bunch of fresh mint, wash it, and let the kids remove the leaves, chop them up, and throw the mint in with the pears.
Add a dollop of honey, stir, and you are ready to go, so the kids can go help with the compost digging. The salad will stay fresh until the cornfield is all prepped and hands are again clean.
*We adults had to have a mini-conference to try and remember whether the peace sign has a line all the way down the middle. We were dangerously close to sowing a fava-bean Mercedes logo.