Baked Cucumbers

I have confessed before about my love of gardening. I like the peas and quiet. But some don’t. A reader wrote, “I’m not saying gardening is as bad for you as smoking, but it’s close.” He listed his beefs with gardening:

• Dirt under your fingernails.
• It is like watching the Titanic; it takes forever and you already know what’s gonna happen.
• Slugs.
• Thistles.
• Slugs. I know I mentioned them before, but they are repulsive little miniature chainsaws that ooze slippery mucus. Nothing is worth that.
• The work never ends. I paint a room, I’m done. I weed a garden, I’m not done. Not ever.
• Gardens remind me of my own inevitable demise–they sprout, they bloom, they die.
• The only vegetable I have ever grown successfully is fungus.

Still I like gardening. God put us in a garden and I like dirt. I really dig it.

This spring I learned that you can plant cucumber seeds, put the pots in the oven, leave the light on, and they will germinate in record time. It works. They thrived. I could almost taste the dill pickles we would can, come August. They are among my absolute favourite thing.

The cucumbers reached 3 and 4 inches tall, but I wanted more for them, so I slid the cukes into the oven and left for work.

At lunch, I arrived home. Ramona met me, looking like she had just crashed our car. “Your cucumbers,” she said. “I baked them.” And she had. Warming up the oven to 350 degrees had left them a golden brown. I couldn’t believe what happened next: I began to laugh, and I couldn’t stop.

Why? Two reasons: 1. I’ve always regretted my response when our son drove our minivan into the cement pillar that held up the roof of my mother-in-law’s deck. I was angry. I should have said, “Back up and hit it again, Son.” 2. That very morning the cucumbers were baked, our granddaughter Myah was rushed by ambulance to a hospital where her life was spared. Baked cucumbers were the least of our concerns. “Be slow to anger,” says James 1:19, and I’m learning the joy of such behaviour.

I’ve also learned to put a little note on the oven when I’m about to employ it as an incubator. My wife has learned to always look in the oven before turning it on. You never know what will be in there.

Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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