Pickin’ Peas

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The hot, dry sun was beating down hard on my back, and the pebbles and puncture weeds were really digging into my knees as I knelt in the parched dirt next to our pea patch the other day.

I’ve spent a LOT of time out there lately, crawling slowly through the thick, tangled vines…

And although my face was beet-red and the sweat was trickling steadily down my back, I have to admit, I was having the time of my life!

I mean, for starters, I was harvesting one heck of a bumper crop. (And honestly, who doesn’t love fresh peas?!) All told, I think I’ve filled my 5-gallon bucket chock-full of peas at least 6 times this year.

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And to top it all off, I was accompanied by my little rosie-cheeked wild child…

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something incredibly endearing about watching a toddler pick and eat peas. I love the way our little girl will come running up, her sweaty brown-blonde curls plastered flat on her sparkling face (looks like she’s been chasing the poor farm cats around the woodpile again), and then she’ll stand there carefully inspecting the heavily-laden bushes, taking her time to select what she considers to be the “perfect” pea pod.

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When she’s finally found it, she’ll reach down with a grubby little hand and execute a rough “grab and yank” maneuver (usually resulting in big ol’ section of broken-off pea vine).

Sure, it’s rough on the poor plants, but watching the way her face lights up is so stinkin’ cute, I can’t help but turn a blind eye to the destruction.

On this particular evening, however, the little monkey had decided it was MY responsibility to pick the peas. All of them. And she had graciously taken it upon herself to oversee the eating of said peas.

Such was our agreement.

(Although, she did outsource the “pod disposal” to Ryu, who sat panting by her side, waiting eagerly to crunch on the discarded greenery).

Periodically, I’d look up from my work, and watch that sweet little two-year-old as she carefully plucked each individual pea between her dimpled fingers and then jammed them, one by one, into her hungry little mouth. A slow process, to be sure — but she was definitely making the most of ’em!

Whenever she finished a pod, she’d throw it to Ryu, and (just like clockwork) come running back to me, asking for “more peas, please.”

It got so predictable that the moment I heard Ryu start crunching, I would break off from my regular picking, select a good “toddler-sized” pea pod, and without even looking up, offer it to the sweaty little wild child — with a generic “There y’go” or “Here’s your peas.”

I don’t know how many peas she downed that evening. (Enough to turn her diaper green the next day). But one time, when I heard Ryu’s tell-tale crunching start up, I selected a pea pod for her, and said:

“I suppose you want some more peas?”

Without saying a word, she grabbed the pea pod out of my hand — and (with a no-nonsense air about her) physically pushed me into a sitting position. Then that silly little monkey proceeded to plop herself down on my lap, leaned back into my chest (wriggling a bit to make herself more comfortable), and when she was finally satisfied with her newfound recliner, she let out the most contented sigh I’ve ever heard:

“Ahhh… I suppose I DO want more peas!”

When it comes to being a dad, I never thought I’d be such a push-over (literally) — but that right there was a moment of pure heaven!

I sure love pickin’ peas!

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