Today I am grateful for pickles. I like pickles, especially dill and bread & butter, but with different things. I think the person who decided to slice pickles the long way for sandwiches was a genius! Still. . . I had to pick them, too, as a kid on my grandparent’s farm.
Did you ever see, or better yet, touch a pickle before the factory got ahold of them?
Ah, I thought not! They are prickly. Very prickly. If you don’t wear gloves your fingers will bleed. Seriously. And they grow on a vine that takes over the world so just when you think you’ve picked them all, if you follow the twisty vine, you’ll find more. Better bring the wagon to the garden because those puppies get heavy! It was not unusual to get between five and ten bushels of pickles in one picking. That farm wasn’t called Vlasic or Del Monte, but it could have been.
Pickles come ripe at the end of summer, when all of the mosquitos have had a full season to grow fat and ravenous. Each time you bend over to pick a pickle, the mosquitos will zero in the soft, meaty flesh behind your knee. They’ll drill for blood until you practically need a transfusion and then they’ll send their friends in for more. If you try to swat at them all you’ll accomplish is piercing yourself with the pickle you forgot to put down first.
If it’s a very dry season, the pickles, when they become big boys are called cucumbers, and will be bitter. To this day I taste each cucumber before adding it to the salad I’m making. One bad-bitter cuke will spoil the whole batch of cucumber salad. My grandma taught me that. If they get too big or are bitter, throw them over the fence to the pigs. Pigs’ll eat anything and they don’t even need salt.
So today I’m grateful for pickles. . .and very glad I can buy them in the store!