the odd clock IRREGULAR TIMES

Elegy for Neglected Zucchini

J. Clifford Cook, Irregular Times contributing writer

I'm in Lincolnshire today, a suburb-of-Chicago -- some call it the North Shore, but no boats float here, except in the pool at the Marriott, where they're also showing the musical Carousel in their little theater next to the breakfast restaurant. The Marriott is a resort, not a hotel.

In the conference room, we walk on a green carpet with a flat floral motif, with walls papered over with a Victorian design reminiscent of leaves. Insulating ceiling tiles square off the sky into blocks of fluorescence, dry sprinkler heads, and ill-filtered grime. Under them, a session of executives struggle to be heard above the air pushed past for us to breathe. We're talking about selling the margins.

return to irregulartimes.comTwo flights away, zucchini is growing in raised beds, unpicked, soon to be good only for bread, grated into stripes through the dough. The rain has fallen to swell the fruit while I have travelled, and I will not return until it is overripe. A garden needs watching as much as tending.

The zucchini, however, needs no tending. It does not need picking, and it will breathe a sigh of relief to be free from the grasp of the ugly, preemptive ape who compacts the soil and rips out competition by the roots. This is not my zucchini. My zucchini was dead with the splitting of seed.

Long, green, hard with drought and bitter-skinned, the squash will be neglected even by raccoons, who will prefer the green beans and oranging tomatoes. Can Dan Quayle spell zucchini?

I am a hybrid, of dirty toes and dirty streets, and one always pulls to another. This virtual garden makes profits for entrepreneurial landscape designers, but it's not for me. A garden does not grow on Northwest Airlines.

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