A hill of beans

by chuckofish

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a row of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.

–Henry David Thoreau

Well, I know just what old Thoreau is talking about. Do you?

I go out to see if my pumpkin plants are still where I planted them every morning and then again when I come home from work.


The OM says, ironically, “Are they still there?” But I am worried about them! My past experience teaches me that their chances are not particularly good. Pesky garden varmints enjoy digging around in this bed, but so far so good.

I love this time of year though, don’t you?


When the plants are just starting to come up and the weeds and violets and creeping vines have not taken over.

peony buds

peony buds

The first rose bud

The first rose bud

When insect life is minimal. When it is still cool enough to enjoy my time in the yard. I admit I lose interest quickly when our flyover temperatures soar. I am a fair-weather gardener.

But you know how my mind works. Thoreau’s quote got me thinking about “a hill of beans” and how that expression became a synonym for something of negligible importance or value. I wonder how that came to be the case? Anyway, this made me think of that famous scene at the end of Casablanca, when Rick says to Ilsa: “I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that…”


Yeats, you recall, wanted “Nine bean-rows” and “a hive for the honey-bee” in his Innisfree home.

Hmmm. If my pumpkins amount to even a hill of beans this year, maybe next year I’ll plant some beans.