EVERY EGGPLANT SAYS WHAT IT MEANS
(From journal archives, 1996)
At this stage in my life I'm having a lot more conversations with vegetables, particularly eggplant and cabbage. The lack of in-depth, one-on-one vegetable conversations in my earlier years reached its low point when I moved into the city with its hypovegetable ambience of concrete, asphalt, sirens, car horns, subterranean rumblings, auto exhaust, broken sunlight, demented wind, artificial weather and whatnot, unlike the countryside with its genuine climate-filled original silence, rich with the whispers of history and teeming with animal and vegetable conversations, including those of weeds and other less raucous foliage, all with a core of tranquility.
Though I realize now that vegetables have always sought my attention in one way or another, whether through their varied crispness, showy leafery, supermarket vegetable signs or by just pushing up out of the ground right at my feet. The turnips, kohlrabis, eggplants and broccolis of my younger days didn't get through sometimes, and when they did I often wasn't listening (youth feels little kinship with the vegetative, except during college) so I didn't get to hear their half of it, though I've always appreciated the fiber content.
When after marketing my older adult life for a sufficient number of decades I was at last able to move back into the country and resume the vegetable dialog pretty much where we'd left off, I began to realize how much vegetables had done for me, how big a role they'd played in my life despite my early disdain for their contribution (vegetables are a lesson to us all) and I could understand more clearly than ever how they had called me back home in their various accents, from the crinkly flutterings of lettuces and the dry, aristocratic tone of eggplants to the sensual implications of tomatoes. The firm gesticulations of cabbage and the tacit attitude of carrots have also become more endearing over time, as have the glottals of okra and the orotundities of pumpkins, just to mention some conversational rows in my garden.
There was nothing in the big city like my old and true friends, who always say precisely what they mean and then live up to every word.