We make new memories every day of our lives, but some fade into the background. Some emerge only with prodding, while others never return.
Sometimes, though, a moment imprints itself indelibly in our psyche. It’s a game-changer, an instant in time that turns us in a new direction. These stay with us.
Of course, there are wedding days, the birth of a child, etc. These are a given. But I want to talk about a carrot. The carrot.
I never liked carrots as a child, especially raw ones. I spent much of my childhood and well into my 40s ignoring them. Never mind that they’re good for eyesight or high in fiber. I considered the carrot boring and tasteless.
When we still lived in Houston, I visited one of the local farmers’ markets from time to time. You know, when I thought of it. A couple of friends of mine, who had turned their entire yard into a garden, sold produce there, so I always ran into people I knew.
One day I bought some carrots. I don’t know why. Maybe I wanted to try something different. Or maybe, just maybe, something in the ethers whispered in my ear that magic was afoot.
Further adding to the mystery of that day, I ate one right there at the market. And that’s when the heavens opened up and angels sang (well, maybe it didn’t happen quite that way, but you get the idea).
From the first bite, I was hooked. The flavor made a big Pow! in my mouth. So sweet! So rich! I wanted to dance. I wanted to sing.
I felt as though I’d never eaten a carrot before.
From then on, we went to the farmers’ market every week. I learned to grow a garden. A few years later, we even moved cross country to the Pacific Northwest, led by a strong local food movement that includes the best farmers’ market in Washington State and a plethora of dedicated small farms.
And gosh darn it, over time I have turned most of my yard into a garden, too. Even among the flowers I manage to sneak in some garlic. Throughout the yard, I’ve scattered huckleberries and raspberries, and last year I grew food in the front yard as well as the back, producing a bumper crop of squash, tomatillos, and fava beans from underneath the apple trees. Today I will throw down some — wait for it — carrot seeds.
If I’ve become a bit fanatical, blame that damned carrot. It changed everything.