ALIEN VEGETABLE Ramble
You could maybe see it their eyes, if they were potatoes, but they're of the squash family, so in their leaves and postures: that longing for a bright, warm sun like there was before they were seeds, sun that their forebears enjoyed day after day, as their Mediterranean heritage led them to expect...
Thus it is that, following days of half-hearted, cloudfiltered sun, just when the teenage vegs need to head for the open road, take off doing their natural equivalent of surfing at Malibu or cruising the route in fast cars-- instead I get zoned zucchini, touchy tromboncino, rankled radicchio-- they hang, stand or droop around moping like teenagers who can't have the car keys. What's a parent to do? It's all my fault, I'm a vegetable internationalist.
I got the sullen trio from sunny Italy, and not one has a visa, none speak the language, they come up one morning, look around and say in that tacit sprouty way: Where the hell is this? What's going on? Why am I here? The kinds of things we all wonder about at that age.
So this year I've got problems from the start with interest and discipline, botanical gangs expecting golden sunny Tuscany and instead getting misty mountainside mornings in Shiga in Japan-- where's Japan? Freshly germinated foreign vegs don't know anything about this country and its weathery ways-- which aren't bad, comparatively, but totally wrong in terms of genolocation. This is not where that veggie DNA was designed for, the radicchio is practically saying where's that warm golden sun, where's that spicy dialect, as it shrugs its tiny emerging leaves in that Italian way and will not be uplifted or accelerated...
My Italian is crude, at best, even though I grew up in an Italian-rich NY neighborhood and picked up a few things, but mostly swear words from Italian teenagers, so I can't say much to encourage an Italian vegetable except in a negative way. I also for some reason took two years of Latin in high school, but it's not much help to explain to sprouts and seedlings that Gaul is divided into three parts-- even though they're of Roman heritage - that's Caesar talking, kids - the laid back zukes just look at me like I'm deranged, even in botanical terms, which I suppose a Japanese farmer passing by might also conclude upon seeing an American speaking error-filled Latin to traditional Italian salad vegetables in the morning mist of a Shiga mountainside, but hey, those foreigners can be strange anyway, like a lot of their vegetables.
Given my own history, I'm certainly no exception.