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May 1st 2010    Tim Candler

    Arthurian legends contain journey toward perfection through behavior and purpose.   I am beginning to suspect that my own grail is a vegetable garden that shares balance with me.  Together we progress and sometimes there is hiccup, and sometimes there is retreat and sometimes there is alternative moment.  Lettuce is one of these moments.

    I used to dislike lettuce, and I am still not sure of my relationship with it.  It was always a European delicacy, and whenever I saw it presented as a dish I prayed for Mayonnaise, or sugar or vinegar or hot potato with which to give lettuce a less dainty effect on palate.   The nibbling of lettuce leaves seemed regularly accompanied by white napkin and skinniness of purpose that put me usually into a vulgar mood.     

    I can quickly admit that in me runs a cantankerous and objectionable nature well rounded by a cowardly acceptance of those mores that maintain interaction without resorting to raised voices or other weapons of strong opinion.   I will of course nod my head and agree there is nothing quite like fresh lettuce.  And this even though I still find myself staring at a row of lettuce, hankering for shape and color before ever the word salad tong or lettuce knife enters my concept of lettuce.

    This year it has been gently pointed out to me that I have rows of extravagant lettuce.   I have statuesque Romaine.  I have fluffy Butterheads.  I have those patriotic pinnacles of Red Green All Season.  And they may indeed become beautiful voyages, but there is in their variety an absence of respectable purpose.   I have form and I have shape devised primarily to suit appearance in the grocery store, and I suspect even good king Arthur would have me dismissed from his court for not planting straggles of Simpson Looseleaf. 

    Yet I find that five almost ripe and only slightly deformed Strawberry on May Day has a moderating influence upon the court.   I guess it is that pat on the head some call an an 'A' for effort and for which I try to be grateful.

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