Early yesterday morning we awoke to find our squash blossoms missing. The sight of it, or more accurately – the lack thereof, was enough to make us to do a double take. We rubbed our eyes thinking this action might shake off a bad dream. No dice, our blossoms were still missing. Our eyes darted across the landscape as we looked around for fresh evidence. Perhaps our garden thief was cute little bunny rabbit hiding in the bushes? Arguably, Mother Nature caring for her own is not an ideal scenario to consider – but Gaia sustaining the circle of life is always forgiven. As we stared down at the clean dirt, still in shock, we realized the stems had been cut clean; they had been sliced with more precision than even I would have bothered to snip. We were in utter disbelief. Someone must have really wanted our blossoms. Our cute, but hungry, bunny rabbit perpetrator idea had just been squashed.
The humor of our situation quickly dissipated like a dark storm cloud unleashing a thunderstorm. Gravity set in. Someone, and not something, had stolen our squash blossoms right out from underneath our noses. Our other plants remained intact. The culprit had deliberately slithered over 20 feet through our front yard and let themselves through our primary gate to deflower our beloved plant. They had made off like bandits. As this second and more likely scenario began to take shape, we ruminated over our new realization. Blankly staring down at our barren plant, we just stood there – quietly processing the adulteration that had occurred. We were simply speechless.
The thought of someone stealing our garden produce brought out a bouquet of emotions. My temperature rose – I was mad, we had just been robbed. We had been denied our ultimate gardening reard, the harvest. I don’t know what it is like for you gardeners reading this, but for the two of us – we dream of gleaning from our garden for almost three quarters of every year. Our garden inspiration gets renewed the day after our last harvest has just been completed. This same dream carries us through the next growing season; gardening is one of the few traditions that I have carried forward from my childhood.
Gruesome images of historical [thievery] punishment methods (caning, severed hands, and hanging) flooded my mind. Simultaneously, I was feeling upset and disenfranchised. I tried to think of better ways to guard our property. Call the security guys. Put in a better system with motion activated cameras, a water trigger spray (or how about an automated bow that shoots arrows? Just kidding Katniss).
As reality set in, a more reasonable option came to mind. I could hang a warning sign, but seriously? The last time I had posted a sign on anything I owned was nearly twenty years ago after I bought a standard transmission car and I didn’t know how to drive a stick-shift. Worried about being distracted by tailgaters following me and stop signs on hilly roads (where I could accidentally grind my gears or stall my car), I printed a sign bearing large letters and I taped it to my rear window: “WARNING. I am learning to drive a stick-shift”.
This particular warning method proved to be quite persuasive. For months (as I began to feel more comfortable driving my car), I’d watch people’s reaction in my rear view mirror. A tailgater would peel-up behind me at a stop light, resting two inches away from my rear. I’d watch their lips as they’d read my sign aloud. I always knew when my message had been received: almost always, their eyes would grow large and their pupils would dilate (fearing for the safety of their own car). My sign had obviously been effective because when traffic resumed, my tailgater was nowhere within sight. Rarely did they pass – in fact, they were usually trailing thirty or forty yards behind me. I’m not sure if they were just in disbelief? Surprisingly, remembering this slice of life lifted my spirits.
I am now calm, but our squash blossom theft lingered with me – so I solicited the advice of a [police] friend. Their advice to me was this: don’t try to catch the thief yourself and put yourself into direct harm’s way – citizens’ arrests may not be your friend when someone is trespassing on your land and stealing from you. You never know if the person will become unpredictable and how they will retaliate. Rather, strongly consider contacting the [non-emergency phone number] police with a license plate number and description of the person; discreetly take a (i.e., non-flash) photo of them in action.
Okay – that sounds like something I can do, but really? The whole situation has left me quite disenchanted. What kind of a person steals someone else’s home grown produce anyway??
I’ve decided to rule out buying squash blossoms at the market this week because my wound has still not yet fully healed. So sorry, we’ll have to cook something else over the weekend and we’ll blog about it next week…