John and I never had kids. It was a conscious choice. When someone asks me if I have children (who would be adults by now, of course) and I answer in the negative without any kind of explanation, I often wonder if they might think we weren’t able to conceive for some reason. Politeness would likely prevent them from asking such a personal question. Sometimes I volunteer the information; sometimes I don’t. Depends on my mood, I guess, and whether I think the inquirer really cares one way or the other.

We have no regrets. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t go through a few anxious moments in my 30’s as I witnessed friends starting families. On more than one occasion I became a little panicky, thinking there was no reason John and I shouldn’t be doing the same thing. Those feelings would always pass, however, usually by the following day. Truthfully, infants kind of freak me out. I mean, sure, they’re cute to look at, but you’ll never catch me asking to hold someone’s baby.

Those things frighten me.

I had no younger siblings to practice on, nor did I babysit when I was a teenager. Well, that’s not completely true. I did have one babysitting job when I was probably 14 or 15 and a friend of mine wasn’t able to make her weekly kids-watching gig for a neighbor of hers. She asked if I’d do it for her and I reluctantly (very reluctantly) said yes. There was money in it, after all. Greed made me do it.

Judging by the alarmed look on the mother’s face as she opened the door and introduced me to her three tiny children, I must have appeared as terror-stricken as I felt. Really, I’m shocked she and her husband went ahead with their plans and allowed me to stay with their kids. I don’t remember a whole lot about the evening other than television playing the entire time — and I think there was ice cream at some point — but I do vividly recall the silent, uncomfortable ride home with the father. My fear never subsided that night. And the parents never asked me to substitute babysit again.

Nowadays, Farmer John and I have babies of a different kind to look after, and lots of them. The fall season has begun in earnest, and as it is at the beginning of every growing cycle, we fret and wring our hands over all our babes on their journey to maturity.

The early cabbages twirl their inner leaves, working on forming heads

as purple and green kohlrabi proudly display their baby bumps

and the spinach beds overpopulate with toddlers.

Our lettuce tykes are well protected under shade cloth for now,

yet like all young’uns, before we know it they’ll be tweens, then teens, then young adults, ready to cut the cord (or stem, in this case) and venture into the world where one day they’ll each meet their perfect match — be it a nice vinaigrette, honey mustard, or a hearty bleu cheese.

Fortunately, when the inevitable separation does come to pass, we still have plenty of infant lettuces to care for in our neonatal unit.

We needn’t worry about Empty Nest Syndrome for some time.

It’s only natural for people to think their babies are the most beautiful of all, and Farmer John and I are no different. With few exceptions (I mean, c’mon, they can’t all be perfect) we’re mighty proud of our farm’s offspring…even though they aren’t technically our progeny.

And there’s something to be said for that. Our babies may not share our DNA,

but at least they’re not scary.

* * *

We have lots of newbies to share with you this week! For Wednesday’s farm stand, we’ll be bringing:

Lettuce mix, Euro salad mix, purple and golden beets, bunches of chard, Dinosaur kale, curly kale, bunches of broccoli raab, Brussels greens, bags of arugula, bulk Asian greens, sweet Corno di Toro peppers and Cubanelle peppers, lots of summer squash (zucchini, yellow, and Zephyr), Nubia and Beatrice eggplant, butternut squash, kabocha squash, Asian cucumbers, the first of the broccoli and Napa cabbage, plus — dare I say it? — fall tomatoes (not as many as we bring in the summer months, mind you, but we will have some!).

Jo Dwyer

Angel Valley Organic Farm

Farm stands:

Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and

Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)