Fecundity. You could look it up, but I already did. It means reproducing, especially in abundance. It’s the only word for the asparagus beans, aka yard-long beans, growing in a couple of raised beds in my back yard. I’ve picked them fresh for several dinners, frozen a couple of pounds and given a bagful to my daughter. Now I’m harvesting the dry pods, which contain the black-eyed red beans you see on the plate. The plants are producing new fresh pods even as the older pods gradually fade and shrivel and harden. I picked both the green and brown pods in the photo at the same time.
There must be a trick to harvesting the dry beans, but I don’t know it. Sometimes the pod will split down the middle, and I can peel the halves apart so the beans drop into a dish. Other times, it just breaks, and I have to split and twist the pod at each bulge to release the bean. I feel very pioneer when I sit down to shell the beans, even though I am doing it at the Formica island in my air-conditioned kitchen. I do know how easy I have it. If my little garden were our only food source, we’d be real skinny, but I think I’m at least getting a hint of what it’s like to eat from the earth “in toil…all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Sounds pretty discouraging, but the one who cursed the earth also gives us life “more abundantly.” You might even say with fecundity. I have a hint of that too.