The green fields stood out bright against the dusty brown desert and backdrop of the distant cocoa colored mountains. We had been out for a drive in our Toyota tow car on a Saturday afternoon. At Blythe, California, Ed turned off Interstate 10 onto a two-lane road, California Highway 78. We traveled south through farm lands and past fields of grazing sheep. We went a bit past the sleepy town of Palo Verde. We had gone far enough so we turned onto a farm road. We guessed its route would loop us north back to the Interstate.
As we rode along we could see irrigation at work. Water in canals separated the fields from the country road. “Where there’s water there’s growth” read a roadside sign. Water had certainly enriched this desert. Crayola green hues looked beautiful. Just what was growing? We could not see enough detail from the car window so Ed stopped the car. There was no other traffic here.
We walked a wooden board tightrope-style across the irrigation canal to get from the road into the field. Ed crossed with the steadiness of a cat, I moved timidly trying not to look down.
Ed grabbed enough for a side dish for our dinner; I grabbed a few photos. We crossed that treacherous board again. And, we started to drive away when Ed noticed the farmer. He put the car in reverse and stopped near the man.
The farmer had noticed us too. He made a wide swing with his John Deer then hopped down. He smiled brightly and held out his arms like a Catholic priest offering Mass – a non-verbal sign of welcome and offering. Above the rattle of the tractor he shouted, “Take all the broccoli you want. I am plowing under the crop. Please help yourselves to as much as you want.”
Here we went again, one foot in front of the other on that narrow plank. This time I carried the lid of our giant cooler, a tray for our pickings. We picked a mound of broccoli from field that Saturday afternoon, enough to have broccoli daily for a couple of weeks. Sure-footed Ed carried our pickings across that plank without dropping a sprig. We had all the broccoli we wanted!
January 31, 2009