Of Peas And Inner Peace

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Tasty and beautiful garden bounty

Snappy Summer Salads That Celebrate Peas

As I harvest my peas, I often think about a friend who died some years ago. Dave Ullin was a big man in every sense of the word, large in stature, huge in spirit and enormous in kindness. If you didn’t know Dave, a timid person might have crossed the road to avoid passing him on the sidewalk; his hulking form, shaved-bald head, worn canvas overalls and giant tool bag added up to a formidable looking whole. Yet stop and speak to him and his face split into an engagingly sweet smile. His manner was unfailingly courteous, his voice always low and gentle. He seemed like Paul Bunyon’s brother, a man out of time, not least because he spent a lot of time helping people fix things with the traditional tools stowed in that old fashioned canvas tool bag. Dave treated everyone with respect, young or old or in between: Not many people would take the time to make a small adze or wood plane for a curious child who wanted to try woodworking the old way, but Dave did such things often, freely sharing his skills and knowledge with anyone who showed up.

Over the years, Dave Ullin helped with many community projects at schools and in island parks. He helped a team of volunteers rebuild an old settler’s cabin using traditional techniques, demonstrating to an awestruck crowd how to cut down towering firs with an axe and a cross-cut saw, then hauling away the trunks with the help of his friend Betsey’s enormous draft horses. If his great size and strength made him seem dangerous, he was absolutely a man of peace. He talked often about how much more peaceful the world would be if we could slow down and take pleasure in simple, purposeful work. Dave enjoyed teaching others how to mend clothes and tools, something he did often, as he was a firm believer in the old adage; “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” He preferred to do whatever work came to hand rather than anything that might seem frivolous, but did enjoy both practical and philosophical conversations about many things, from gardening and mending socks to defending personal freedoms and making sure no one was ever left out in anything he was involved with.

Meet The Man

Here’s a short video of this remarkable man at work and at rest. Take five minutes to watch it and I’m guessing your day will have a new savor:

One With The Work

Of Peace And Peas

I remember Dave when I harvest peas because his jam-packed memorial service featured not just stories and music but a big burlap sack of local snap peas, plump and sweet. Handfuls of peas were passed around the room as people gathered to remember or learn more about this unforgettable man. Now that I’m gardening in the community garden he helped create, I think often about Dave and his love for growing things and especially for fresh vegetables. Is there anything more delicious than fresh peas, straight off the bush? Crisp and tender, earthy and sweet, raw peas are a favorite nosh for my grandkids too, and when we pick peas, we eat as many as make it into our harvest bags.

Growing, harvesting, and eating fresh food all seem equally joyful to me. I often think of Dave and how simple, practical, daily work was so satisfying for him. In the community garden, I see other people peacefully puttering, weeding and watering, harvesting and amending soil, planting fall starts or another crop of greens. Many of them say that gardening kept them sane during the pandemic shutdown. For me, gardening has kept me grounded and given me more peace than anything else in my life. And more peas, too. What’s not to love? I think Dave Ullin was living the true Beautiful Life, one of service and kindness, generosity and humble abundance, sharing his skills and knowledge and nurturing community wherever he found himself. Like Dave, I find worthy work deeply satisfying and his life is a model I strive to emulate in my own bumbling way every day. Onward, right?

About Those Peas

Fresh sugar pod peas are too delicious to waste in cooked dishes, but simple, summery salads help celebrate each ingredient. The diagonal cut lets ingredients mingle especially well.

Raspberry Sugar Snap Salad

1 cup sugar snap pea pods
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
2 cups ribbon-sliced Romaine lettuce (chiffonade)

Top and tail intact pea pods, pull off the strings and slice in half-inch diagonals, set aside. In a serving bowl, whisk together the lime juice, maple syrup and salt. Adjust to taste, add remaining ingredients (including peas) and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately. Serves at least one.

Terrifically Tart

Tart pie cherries, fresh ginger root, and cilantro or parsley give pod peas even more snap. Raw cabbage adds to the crunch factor, though a few minutes rest in the dressing pre- “cooks” it a bit.

Pod Pea & Tart Cherry Salad

2 cups (about 16) snap peas in the pod
1 cup chopped pitted tart cherries (or any kind)
1 cup very thinly sliced red cabbage
1/4 cup finely chopped Walla Walla Sweet onion
1/4 cup stemmed cilantro OR parsley
1-2 teaspoons grated ginger root
1-2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar

Top and tail intact pea pods, pull off the strings and slice thinly on the diagonal. In a serving bowl, gently toss peas with remaining ingredients, adjust ginger and vinegar to taste and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Best at room temperature. Serves at least one.


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5 Responses to Of Peas And Inner Peace

  1. Eben M Atwater says:

    Oh, and save those pods to make pea stock with _ delicious and gorgeous too!

  2. Sandra says:

    I loved this film of Dave. I grew up with a relic crosscut saw blade hanging in the carport and have enjoyed old blues tunes about the crosscut saw but what I did not know was a lot.
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Salt Spring Island

  3. A wonderful video and blog!

  4. Tamara Mitchell says:

    Wonderful story and great video. Your recipes are always so imaginative! Thanks.

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