Summer Green Peas: Happy Thoughts

DSC_0593_4436_5AE-EditFresh Green Pea Season

It’s Pea Season! And we’ve been hauling huge bags of them home from the farmers market every week. My favourite way to enjoy summer peas is to simply fill a large bowl with fresh, cold, crunchy pea pods, shell one, pop the succulent little morsels straight into my mouth, savour them thoroughly, and gluttonously carry on until the whole bowl is empty. Mmmmm… they are such a delicious summer treat.

My Mother’s Vegetable Garden

One of my greatest summertime childhood joys was the daily inspection I undertook of my mother’s incredibly beautiful and bountiful backyard vegetable garden. Even as a wee child, her garden completely fascinated me. Every morning, I carefully threaded through the rows, taking stock of what was new and marveling at how fast everything mushroomed up overnight. An endless source of summer delight, it was something I did once or twice a day through my entire childhood (and every time I visited as an adult thereafter).

My mother is an incredible vegetable gardener. She has a super green thumb and an almost uncanny ability to make plants flourish under her attentive eye. At the peak of her gardening days, she grew all sorts of vegetables: lettuces of all kinds, carrots, radishes, beets, potatoes, cabbage, spinach, chard, broccoli, celery, green beans, different kinds of onions, garlic, cucumbers, pattypan squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini, pumpkins, corn, herbs and her prized tomatoes. Summertime was a veritable cornucopia of gorgeous fresh vegetables at our house. And I loved all of it.


Photograph by Tom Heller

The Pea Patch

Everything about my mother’s garden delighted me, but the pea patch excited me most. Each summer, for as long as I can remember, I trolled it regularly with great anticipation, watching and waiting for those first flat pea pods to plump up enough to eat. And when they finally did, I would often be found standing smack-dab in the middle of the pea patch, plucking fresh, sweet pea pods, shelling and devouring oodles of them on the spot. The tender, succulent, sweet green peas were as yummy to me as any candy. There is no better way to eat fresh peas.


Photograph by Dayna McIsaac

Shelling Peas

One of my childhood chores (and one I loved) when pea harvest time rolled around was picking and shelling large bucketfuls of green peas. My father loved shelling peas too. On hot sunny days in mid-summer, he and I would often sit together on a blanket spread over the grass in the cool shade of our apple tree, quietly enjoying the repetitive, meditative task of shelling peas as we listened to the robin’s song, the bees buzzing and the dragonflies whizzing about the nearby flower patch.

Faced with a sizable bucket brimming with peas to shell, the beginning always felt a bit daunting. The very first shelled peas thudded a hollow sound as they hit the bottom and rolled about my empty bowl, signifying all the work ahead. But bit by bit, pea by pea, the bowl slowly filled and the peas silently piled up.

Of course, just how quickly that bowl filled up with shelled peas depended greatly on how many of them I tossed into my mouth as I worked. I often ate more than I shelled. I couldn’t resist—my hand flew up to my mouth before I even knew it! (I also considered eating some of them to be a perk for my conscripted services.)


Photograph by sophie & cie

My father, on the other hand, was a fast and focused pea-sheller and he prided himself on always being the first to finish his much larger bucket of peas. He would point at my paltry collection of shelled peas and lovingly laugh as he’d help me finish shelling my quota. So connected in my mind is shelling peas with the lazy, hazy, happy days of those endlessly long and delicious childhood summers, that, to this day, I still love shelling peas outdoors on a warm summer’s day.

My father is no longer here in body, but I often feel his gentle, fun-loving presence around me, especially on a warm summer’s day when I’m shelling peas.


Image Credits:

Farmers Market Green Peas, photograph by madlyinlovewithlife;
© 2014 madlyinlovewithlife

Peas, CC by Tom Heller via Flickr

Peas, CC by Dayna McIsaac via Flickr

Les Petite Pois, CC by sophie & cie via Flickr


18 thoughts on “Summer Green Peas: Happy Thoughts

  1. A wonderful story and photos Jeannie. I too enjoy the garden and the amazing variety of food that can be grown… Spring starts with asparagus (my favorite) and ends late in fall digging the spuds last… usually… A yearly ritual that I enjoy :) Have a great weekend my friend.

    • Hi Sam! I knew that you, of all people, would totally relate to the cycles and rhythms of the garden. Asparagus is the one thing my mother never grew (which is too bad for me, for they are also one of my favourites). I often helped my Dad harvest the carrots and then the potatoes come autumn, another task I loved doing with him. It’s something I haven’t done in years and I do miss it. Enjoy the bounty of your garden and have a wonderful weekend, Sam! :)

  2. I love reading your texts, Jeannie. You are describing it so well. I love green peas and I always liked to shell them also . We had a large garden on the farm , my mom’s work was never finished with 8 kids +.

    • Thanks, France! My Dad came from a huge farming family and many of my aunts and uncles had large garden farms, so I have a good idea of how much work your Mom had to do! There’s nothing like farm-fresh produce though! :))

  3. Jeannie, your words flow so well. It is as if your heart is simply connected to your keyboard. A most lovely and compassionate story so vividly reminisced.

    I have never eaten a pea direct from the pod. You make it sound so wonderful… And while I am sorry about your pop, I am happy your green thumb is still with you.

    And your photo was wonderful!

  4. Hello Jeannie,
    It’s almost midnight in Tokyo, and my mouth is watering – yet again! :)))
    Thank you for sharing this post, I loved your photos (as always!) and especially how you describe your mother’s vegetable garden and your father’s awesome pea-shelling skills. I too, am sorry about your father, you must miss him very much.
    I hope you & your partner (and your mother) are having a lovely weekend.

    • Thank you, Takami. I do at times miss seeing my father. But in some ways he does not feel lost to me, as I often feel his beautiful, warm spirit around me. My parents both loved to work in the garden. My Dad tilled the soil and brought in cured manure for natural fertilizer, which he worked into the soil each spring. He helped my mother partition and measure out the rows come planting time. And, of course, he helped with harvesting all the amazing produce, including shelling the peas. Shelling peas each year brings back all these happy memories. Have a wonderful week ahead, my friend! :))

  5. Great series of photo and really liked the write up. Growing up in an agricultural community, one summer I drove a pea-combine…nothing better than fresh peas :-)

  6. I love reading all your stories. You are such an incredible writer, I am the opposite, which is why I could never have a blog. I really like your photo with the light shining through the pea pod. I love this time of the year, and the fresh peas are available for such a short time.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Diane. It’s so true that the peas are available for such a short time and now is the time to feast on them! I imagine that you are doing just that! Wishing you a great week ahead, my friend. :))

  7. Lovely post. My mother was a wonderful vegetable gardner too. I too sat shelling peas (not on the same scale as you and with less enthusiasm) and this was mostly on a sunny afternoon, also hulling gooseberries. We are eating our first runner beans here, but my small vegetable plot is very parched, no matter how often I water, the sandy soil just passes it through.

    • Thanks so much for your wonderful comment, Hilary. How fabulous that you have a small vegetable plot. We live in a condominium, so we must rely on the farmers markets for our produce. There is something so satisfyingly elemental about tending to plants and being so in touch with the earth that I do miss. I’m delighted to hear you are enjoying some of your first runner beans. Mmmmm… I love beans! Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead. :))

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