Tag Archives: zucchini

A Good Use for Zucchini

SH-zukes uniteYou can visit Carding any time in my novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, and The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life. The fourth in the series, Lights in Water, Dancing, will be out later this year.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the subscribe button on my home page. When you do, my stories will speed from my keyboard to your inbox every Thursday without any further effort on your part.

Please share these with your friends, co-workers, and all the family members you like best. I understand they go great with morning coffee.

In last week’s Carding Chronicle, Wil Bennett and his friends Brian Lambert and Dave Muzzy offered to buy a bushel basket of zucchini from Carding’s favorite farmer, Lee Tennyson.

Not knowing why they wanted them, Lee was reluctant to sell the green squash until Andy Cooper, who owns the town’s general store, offered to pay for it. He had heard rumors about how the members of the Mount Merino Golf Club cheated the young guys who caddied there, and he wanted to see how creatively Wil, Dave, and Brian would use the zukes in protest.

The members of the golf club are not real popular among the locals, you see.

If you want to start at the beginning, here’s a link to part one.

If you’re ready, let’s dive into the second part of our story, shall we?

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“You two may need to put that stuff on but I don’t,” Brian said as he watched Wil and Dave smear black Halloween makeup on their faces. He stretched out his bare arms. “Already painted, see?”

Wil shook his head as he bent forward to look in the side view mirror of Dave’s car. “Okay, okay. We get it. I just hope this stuff comes off after we’re done.”

Dave clicked on a small penlight so he could study his map of the Mount Merino golf course stretched over the hood of his car. “Brian’s right,” he said just as he had a few minutes before. “You can’t see the tee on the second hole from the club but it’s the first thing everyone sees when they come around these trees.”

Brian looked over his shoulder and tapped the map with his finger then turned toward Wil. “Did you find a bag to cover that motion sensor light?”

“Yeah.” Wil raised a heavy canvas bag above his head. “I even put a couple of flashlights in it to make sure no light leaks out. We’re good.”

Dave fumbled as he folded up the map. “I admit I’m nervous…”

“You think?” Wil teased.

“But these people have got me so pissed off, I almost don’t care if I get caught,” Dave finished.

“Yeah, I totally agree. I just hope those sports website people get pictures of what we do before the club ruins it.” Wil hoisted the bag over his shoulder. “Let’s go.”

The previous day, the three friends had taken time to mark a trail through the woods to the backside of the golf course, carefully tying yellow surveyor’s tape around trees as they ferried their zucchini and props to a spot behind the remains of a stone wall.

Once they arrived at their staging area, they soundlessly dropped to their bellies, and crawled toward the ominous motion sensor light. Wil marveled at how hard his heart thumped as they approached it. He was sure that it would suddenly illuminate the entire area to reveal their plan. When they reached the light, they were all relieved to find that it sat higher off the ground than they anticipated. That made it easier to bag.

Brian, on the far right, nodded at Wil who flattened the bag out as much as he could. Using just the tips of his fingers, he inched it slowly to his right and in front of the light, passing it on to Dave who passed it on to Brian. When they were done, they paused to take a couple of deep breaths.

“So far, so good,” Dave whispered as he backed away to grab a drop cloth they’d brought in case their bagging trick didn’t work.

“On three,” Brian said. “One, two, three.”

The two friends slipped the bag over the light, moving so quick that only the merest blink escaped. Then the trio listened for any sound outside the murmur of the early morning breeze through the trees. Had they been caught?

Wil looked at his watch. They had agreed to wait for five minutes to see if anyone raised an alarm just in case they needed to beat a hasty retreat.

It was a very long five minutes.

Finally Wil said: “Okay, now.”

Dave leaped out with a clutch of heavy-duty wooden skewers that he jabbed into the ground in a layout they’d practiced earlier. Wil and Brian followed with the zucchini, jamming a squash onto the point of each skewer.

Then out came their signs. The first one they set up was a paper banner stretched between the two largest zukes proclaiming “Merino Members Cheat Caddies.” Then they set up a squash threesome to hold up a sign saying: “No Pay, No Play in the Pro-Am.” A crowd of smaller squash carried “Caddies On Strike” signs.

As they worked, the three friends became almost giddy with excitement. Finally they came to the final four squash and their last sign.

“We’ve got to take a picture of this one,” Wil said.

They fussed a few moments to get the pose just right, adjusting then re-adjusting the last sign. Finally satisfied, they checked to make sure they’d left nothing behind, shoved everything into the bushel basket that had once held the zucchini then scurried back toward the woods.

But before they left, they turned their cell phones on their final work of zucchini art.

“On three,” Wil said. “One, two, three.”

Their phones flashed then the young men fled down their path, removing the surveyor’s tape as they went.

The center of town was pretty quiet as they drove past the green. Lights were just going on in the Coop to signal that the general store was open for business, and the first souls in search of caffeine trailed into the bakery owned by Wil’s parents.

“How did your pictures come out?” Brian asked as Dave pulled to the curb.

Wil peered at his screen for a moment. “We’re golden,” he said with a smile, thumbing his keyboard. “And I just sent it to Sports World. Let’s hope they get it online before the tournament starts this morning.”

High up on the Mount Merino golf course, Andy Cooper clucked to his dog Sable to let her know he was ready to start ambling again. “I figure the kids are back in town by now,” he said to Lee Tennyson. “Let’s go see what they did.”

The two friends kept close to the wooded edge of the course as they walked. The sun was making short work of the dark, encouraging Lee to tug the visor of his hat down further.

“What are we going to say if someone asks us why we’re here?” he asked.

Andy patted the binoculars dangling from his neck. “No one ever questions the motives of a cantankerous old birdwatcher,” he said.

They stopped abruptly at the edge of the second tee, taking in what the three teens had wrought. Andy started to chuckle as he walked around to admire their work. Then he stopped in front of the final four squash.

“Zukes of the world—Unite,” he read. “I like this one the best. If you’ll take a picture of it, I’ll put it up on the front door of the store.”

Lee squatted down so he could see the squash panorama straight on then focused his camera. “One would think you’re not a fan of the Mount Merino folks, Andy.”

His friend snorted. “They hire these young people, work them hard, and then expect to pay them 1950s wages in a 21st-century world. They get no sympathy from me. I figure I’m just doing my part to keep a little justice in the world.” Andy looked over his shoulder in the direction of the golf club. “Besides, I figure those kids will need a little moral support to contend with that lot, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do actually. Glad I could help.”

Andy smiled and started walking again, squinting into the rising sun. “Besides, it’s a good use for zucchini, don’t you think?”

About That Zucchini

Tomorrow is Thursday, and time for the second part of a two-part story featuring a trio of friends—Wil Bennett, Brian Lambert, and Dave Muzzy.

They’ve been working as caddies at the Mount Merino Country Club all summer, and they’re not happy about the way they’ve been treated.

So they’re planning a little surprise for the start of this weekend’s pro-am tournament.

I don’t want to give anything away but it does involve zucchini.

By the way, this is an excerpt from my fourth Carding novel, Lights in Water, Dancing that will be published later this year.

Hope you can stop by.

SH-zukes unite

 

One Zucchini, Two Zucchini, Three Zucchini, Four

SH-zukes soloYou can visit Carding any time in my novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, and The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life. The fourth in the series, Lights in Water, Dancing, will be out later this year.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the subscribe button on my home page. When you do, my stories will speed from my keyboard to your inbox every Thursday without any further effort on your part.

Please share these with your friends, co-workers, and all the family members you like best. I understand they go great with morning coffee.

It happens this time every year. The abundance of zucchini squash is really hard to keep up with. Wil Bennett and his friends Brian Lambert and Dave Muzzy think they might have a way to help with the abundance.

This is the first of two parts. Hope you can drop by next week to find out what happens or—better yet—subscribe so that each Carding Chronicle finds its way right into your inbox.

Enjoy!

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“Sorry Lee, but I can’t take them.” Andy Cooper shook his head regretfully from the steps of the loading dock at the back of his general store. “Folks with gardens are overrun with zucchini right now, and they’re flooding their neighbors with ‘em as well. So I can’t even give them away.”

Lee Tennyson sighed, his shoulders sagging under the weight of a bushel basket filled with long, thin green squash. “What am I going to do with them?” he asked. “Even the chickens don’t seem that interested. My wife’s complaining that their eggs have got a greenish tinge to them.”

“Zucchini bread?” Andy asked.

Lee raised an eyebrow. “Do you have any idea how full our freezer is of zucchini bread and our pantry has enough zucchini relish in it to cover all the hot dogs in Fenway Park.”

Andy shook his head again. “I am sorry Lee. Happens this time every year. If you could grow ‘em in January, you’d get a couple of bucks a pound for them. But now?”

“I know, I know,” Lee said. “I thought I would try. These just may end up in the compost pile.”

There are all kinds of seasons in Vermont—fall (our most treasured), mud or frost heave (they overlap), black fly, early winter, late winter, and mid-winter with a little bit of summer thrown in for good measure. Each has their notoriety and accompanying legends but perhaps no other season is quite so infamous as the shortest season of them all—ripe zucchini season.

First-time gardeners always get caught in its trap, thinking that if one zucchini plant is good then three or four must be better. At first they can keep up with the harvest easily, grilling squash with their chicken thighs, grating it for salads, tossing it in with red tomatoes for fresh spaghetti sauce.

But then the zukes really get going, rewarding the gardeners with two, three, four, five, and sometimes six pickable squash a day. And soon it’s zucchini with every meal, and the spicy smell of zucchini bread rises from ovens all over town.

Gardeners beg their neighbors to “take a couple” until the neighbors lock their doors. And then, inevitably, every gardener, no matter how meticulous, finds a giant zuke hiding under the plant’s leaves, and it’s now the size of a sack of potatoes.

Second-year gardeners vow not to be fooled. “Just because there are 20 seeds in the seed pack doesn’t mean you have to plant them,” they tell one another. So instead of four hills of squash, they plant two but because they don’t want the leftover seeds to go to waste, each of those hills has five seeds.

Which means that second-year gardeners usually reap the same harvest as newbies.

But even long time gardeners can get caught with their zucchini down if the conditions are right—enough early rain, a lack of borers munching on the stalks, and long sunny days as August rolls into September.

The conditions have been perfect this year so everyone in Carding has more than enough zucchini.

“Hey Mr. Tennyson, we’ll buy your zucchini,” Wil Bennett said as Lee turned to leave the general store’s loading dock.

The good-natured farmer squinched up eyebrows. “Can I ask what you want them for?”

Wil’s eyes flicked from his friend Brian on his left to his friend Dave on his right in a way that immediately set off small alarm bells in Lee’s head. “Umm, can we just say that we’re the Society for the Prevention of Unwanted Zucchini?” Brian asked.

“Uh huh, try again,” Lee said.

“Umm, we need them for a project,” Dave said.

“A project? What kind of project? Something for school?”

“Umm, not exactly,” Wil said.

Lee noted the slight smirk on his face. “Okay, what’s this really about?” The three teens showed a sudden interest in their shoes.

Lee looked at the bushel basket on the ground near his feet, and then looked at the three friends. He’d known Wil and Dave since they were born, and even though Brian was new to town, Lee knew and liked his father, Jamal. They were all good kids.

“Are you planning to smash them on the road?” he asked.

“No.”

“Are you going to leave them in people’s cars without permission?”

They shook their heads. “Are you kidding, everyone in town knows where we live,” Dave said.

“Really Mr. Tennyson, we are not planning to use them for destructive purposes,” Brian said.

Andy Cooper, who was still on the loading dock, started to smile. Being the owner of Carding’s general store gave him unfettered access to all the best rumors in town, and he’d heard something only that morning about the pro-am tournament up at the Mount Merino Golf Club that had piqued his curiosity. He reached out to interrupt Lee’s next question.

“You three have been working as caddies up at the golf club, am I right?” Andy asked.

The three teens suddenly grew still until Wil reluctantly answered, “Yeah. We are.”

Andy pulled his wallet out of his back pocket, and turned toward Lee. “How much were you hoping to sell that basket of squash for?”

“Thirty.”

“How about I give you forty, and you let these guys take the basket, too. Is that fair?”

“Thanks Mr. Cooper, Mr. Tennyson,” Wil said as they trundled off to Dave’s car with what Lee figured was 60 pounds of squash.

“What was that all about?” Lee asked as the teens drove away.

“Hmph, I heard that the members of the golf club have been stiffing the caddies, including those three,” Andy said. “The tournament starts tomorrow, biggest event of the year for all the snobs up there. I thought it might be interesting to see what those kids are going to do about it.”

Lee handed back one of the two twenties Andy had paid him. “Let’s split it. I want in on this.”

Lee handed back one of the two twenties Andy had paid him. “Let’s split it. I want in on this.”

Gad Zukes!

Tomorrow is Thursday and there’s a new Carding Chronicle revving up at the start line for your reading pleasure.

It’s the time of year when the harvest from gardens is heavy. Folks are busy picking apples, making sauce, canning pickles, drying herbs, and trying to find someone to take all that zucchini off their hands.

In Carding, Wil Bennett and his friends Brian and Dave have been caddying up at the Mount Merino Golf Club, and they have a few ideas that may help with the zucchini abundance.

This is the first of two parts.

Hope you can take the time to come visit. Here’s a sample of what’s in store.

SH-zukes solo