Local vegetable gardens are high-maintenance right now. In the cool of the morning, it’s picking time: today might be the butterbeans and the corn, tomorrow the rattlesnake beans and the purple hull peas, then back to the beginning with the corn and butterbeans. In the meantime, the yellow squash, zucchini, okra, melons, cucumbers, bell peppers, hot and mild chilies and (especially) the tomatoes need daily attention. Afternoons are for putting up the morning’s pickings, which, if you’re growing enough to keep you through the winter, will definitely take the rest of the day, whether it’s two five-gallon buckets of beans to snap or ten dozen ears of corn to shuck and silk.

The payoff is in dinners like tonight’s: the corn, squash and cucumbers were photosynthesizing their little hearts out this morning, and the purple hull peas were the last of last year’s crop (with pepper sauce from last year’s hot chilies). With a big wedge of cornbread and a glass of milk, it was heaven. And even a confirmed carnivore like me knows that meat or fish would have been foolish and gluttonous.