As a kid, I couldn’t keep straight beans from peas. Somehow I had gotten it confused, thinking that the little round green things were beans and the straighter green things were peas. I was nervous about my confusion, because, after all, as a farmer’s daughter, one should know one’s vegetables.
I remember all of this because of my one-week hospital stay when I was five. On the first night, dinner came with straight green things on the plate. When my parents came to visit later that night, my mother asked me what I had for dinner. I don’t remember the entrée, but remember conveniently leaving out the reference to any vegetable. Of course she asked, with a slight frown, didn’t I have any vegetables? I remember thinking, “Beans? Peas? Beans? Peas?” I thought “peas” were a safe bet, 50-50 odds being good enough for me.
The second night, the dinner plate had the little round green things. Why couldn’t I have carrots, I wanted to know. Or broccoli, maybe. I knew broccoli. Sure enough, my mother asked me that night what I had for dinner. (She would later ask me this after every law firm interview – what nice restaurant did they take me to, and what did I order.) And sure enough, she asked me what vegetable they served. “Peas,” I replied, re-thinking that maybe the little round ones were peas, after all. And I figured if I were wrong the night before, I’d be right tonight.
This logic was lost on my mother. Frowning more than the night before, she said, “But you had peas last night.” “Uhh, beans, maybe they were beans.” I felt found out. I didn’t know enough to be worried about the pneumonia in my lungs; I remained worried about my green pod dyslexia. As the week wore on, I was relieved that my mother developed a repertoire of other questions to ask me. Or maybe she just figured that this hospital just served a lot of peas, and left it at that.
Snow peas do well on my trellises in the spring, and tonight’s harvest ended up in chicken vegetable soup. Beans do well on those trellises later in the summer, and this year I’m trying scarlet pole beans, which I started from seed in pony packs, ready to transplant when the snow peas run their course as the weather starts to warm up. Akemi returned last night to an incoming snow storm in Boston, but it was 75° this afternoon in Pasadena.
Good thing I know which is which now.