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Monday, 25 November 2013

The Lima Bean Caper

By Joyce Benedict

My sons and I had moved to a small town known for its myriad cultural activities nestled at the base of the Adirondack Mountains in New York. My second husband William, a former Methodist minister and teacher, was 25 years older than myself. My life was filled with the pleasures of new love and family.

Intruding on my bliss were the endless visits and phone calls of Bill's former wife, Loretta. She and Bill were trying to untangle myriad business and personal ties. I played the gracious hostess and tried to stay out of the way.

Her unannounced visits, her curious nervousness, fidgeting and endless munching on something from her purse, not closing her mouth when chewing rattled me. I was told once that I was “strung like a rare Stradivarius violin.” Loretta was driving me out of tune.

To supplement our food costs, Bill had churned up quite a sizable plot of land to the right of our cottage for a garden. We planted every vegetable imaginable. It was my first experience with gardening and I loved it.

Lima beans have always been my favorite vegetable. Some crave chocolate, others lobster or steak. Me? I crave lima beans. What a thrill it was to realize I could grow them.

Tall stakes were inserted in the ground and I watched with the awe of a child as the vines stretched up towards the sky.

Later came the inevitable dark green pods containing my “food from the gods.” No frozen box of lima beans held any candle to those lush, large, fresh beans.

I came to understand why lima beans were one of the more expensive veggies. A strong thumb in a short time would get numb with the effort getting them out of their pods.

Our first summer’s yield was a dream come true. After three days of wrestling, wrenching, ripping open the hard pods of my harvest, I had managed to fill a six-quart stainless steel pot to the rim with a handsome mound in the middle. I planned to blanch and freeze at least two thirds of the harvest with enough left over for three or four meals.

That afternoon Bill informed me that Loretta was coming over to settle the endless papers, tax concerns and other dealings that had developed between them over 13 years of marriage. I escaped to go marketing with my sons. Left behind in the center of the big table was my three days labor of love.

Arriving home several hours later, I was grateful to see that Loretta had left. Halfway through the unpacking of groceries, I suddenly noticed that the six quart pot, which had been hidden from the bought fare, was empty save for about 12 lonely, little limas at the bottom.

“Bill," I inquired anxiously, “what happened to all the lima beans in the pot?”

“While Loretta and I were talking she nibbled at them," he replied nonchalantly.

"She nibbled six quarts of lima beans away in a single sitting?” I exclaimed while gasping for air from sheer disbelief! "Why didn't you stop her? I spent three days husking the beans in that pot!"

"Sorry," Bill said. "I'm going to go get the car serviced."

The screen door banged shut and I turned, looking at the chair where Loretta usually sat, and pictured her munching for almost three hours on raw lima beans! Anger swelled as Bill was so nonchalant about this!

It took the rest of the afternoon before I calmed down and accepted the reality of the situation. Mind over emotion brought some perspective. I thought of the endless news I had seen on TV or had read in the papers of floods, droughts, bugs ruining a farmer’s entire crop. This event was picayune in comparison.

The next morning, Loretta called.

“Could you tell Bill for me that I won't be able to make it today? I was up all night with the worst diarrhea," she groaned. "You can't imagine. ”Ohhhh. I'm still not back to normal."

"You poor thing," I mumbled, fighting not to laugh. "I'll tell Bill."

I laughed so hard tears rolled down my cheeks. Revenge is sweet.

Some people recall great events as being indelibly etched in their brains like the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations or the Woodstock concert. More recently all will describe in detail where they were when 9/11 occurred. I will never forget where I was when my six quarts of lima beans disappeared in one sitting into one woman’s stomach.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


You're a good woman!

What a funny story, Joyce, and well-told. Oh, boy, what a gut ache she must have had!

Loved the story -- and the "pay back." There is truth to the saying tha you "reap what you sow."

What was she thinking! Funny but sweet revenge.

It is a great story, Loretta. You couldn't have planned such an outcome if you'd tried.

"I was told once that I was “strung like a rare Stradivarius violin.” Loretta was driving me out of tune." I loved these phrases! Looks like ex wives or husbands would make good fodder for memoirs. Yours is a nifty story,told delightfully!

Wow! Loved this story. How could she have gotten all those raw bean down? Shelling all those beans was really worth it!

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