Exhibit A.  What's left of the garden.

Exhibit A. What's left of the garden.

I warned you, didn’t I?  Said that if you didn’t pick those brussels sprouts when the temperature baked in the 60’s and 70’s…you would be sorry.  So very sorry.

And did you listen?  Did you harvest?  Or did you think “Oh, the weather is sure to be nice and warm for at least a few days in October” and happily wander around in the woods without a second thought for the garden?  Did you think that maybe, oh just maybe, those teeny tiny brussels would grow into full-sized globules like you buy in the grocery store? 

Well today you have to fact the facts.  It’s 37 degrees and freezing every night.  Time to get out there and pull up the root-bound heavy plants and see what marbles you can rescue from the stalks.  After all, the marbles taste good.  Especially when you think of some sauce or vinaigrette to marinate them in. 

Get on out in the garden.  Don’t think about the temperature.  Remember to layer.  And remember to put on some kind of gloves this year.  Or your fingers will freeze solid during this task.

The brussels awaiting harvest

Exhibit B. The brussels awaiting harvest.

Unfortunately, you may not be able to find a pair of work gloves.  You look EVERYWHERE.  In this closet and that closet.  They’re AWOL.  So you finally settle upon a black yarn pair of gloves (half-way decent) thinking you’ll wash them in mild detergent later. 

And out you go to pull the plants and toss the leaves into the woods for deer lunches.

Admiring the brussels marbles, up close

Admiring the brussels marbles, up close

No complaining about those icy cold fingers!  Not a WORD.  You have gloves on, after all.  Be a strong woman.  Take a deep breath.  Keep plucking.  We’re not going to say, “I told you so!”

Some of us have a problem with the words:  Brussels sprout.  In common English we call ’em:  Brussel sprouts.  We’ve called them brussel sprouts all our life.  But then you discover that’s incorrect.  They are Brussels.  So you try very hard to call them by their proper name, by the name they want to be called.  You know how you call somebody “Tommy” all his life and suddenly you have to remember “Tom”.  And how hard you struggle to not say, “Tommy, how you doing?”  It’s the same with brussels sprout.

Deer food.  All those brussels leaves for the hungry deer.

Deer food. All those brussels leaves for the hungry deer.

So you strip all the leaves off the tough stalk and throw them diligently into the woods under the oak tree.  You rub your icy fingers together to create heat-friction. You know the hungry deer will stop by eventually and munch the scraps, hopefully putting on a bit of fat for the long winter.  We try to keep the deer in their Proper Areas.  We feed them under the oak tree but if they dare attempt to scale our electric fence and eat our garden produce:  watch out!  We won’t be so kind if they eat all our vegetables.  No.  They’ll be zapped up into the heavens.  They know where to place their hooves.  And it’s not in the garden.

Brussels "art"

Brussels "art"

Because you know how very very icy your fingers will become cutting off the marbles from the stalk, you come up with an idea this year.  In fact, come to think about it, maybe one of your blog readers suggested this.  You bring the stalks into the warm cozy basement.  You will cut off the brussels from the comfort of your rug, dozing by the wood stove.  Yes!  It’s a plan!  If you ever get motivated, you will do this.

There they are downstairs in the basement.  Waiting.  And they're still waiting.

There they are downstairs in the basement. Waiting. And they're still waiting.

After you bring the brussels inside you happen to glance down at yourself.  Oh my, what a mess!  Mud everywhere.  On the shoes, on the jeans, on the socks.  What a muddy venture.  You decide to return to the garden to pull some carrots, just to be Truly Productive.  And you determine to take a picture of the mud-spattered formerly nice-looking knit gloves.  Except the camera suddenly refuses to open and close.  You hope it’s a battery problem.  You truly hope it is.  In the meantime…time to change clothes!  And you really should get downstairs and finish those brussels sprouts.

Messy muddy harvester

Messy muddy harvester