A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


So I’m walking into the office one fall morning, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I turn the corner and there it is, sitting on my chair. Waiting. Lingering. Lurking.

"Oh, goody," I say facetiously. "Zucchini."

"Isn't that nice?" says Marie, the irrepressibly upbeat person in the next office. "Somebody left zucchini for everyone!"

Ever notice how nobody actually gives your zucchini? At least, not in the same way they give you corn or apples or tomatoes. I mean, if someone wants to give you a few fresh, juicy peaches off their tree, they walk right up and hand them to you. You know - as though they're proud. As though they think you'll be pleased. They have confidence you're not going to run screaming into the night at the sight of their gift.

But with zucchini, they leave it and skulk away in a cowardly fashion. No note. Calling card. And no fingerprints. Zucchini is the abandoned orphan of the vegetable kingdom.

"Yeah - nice," I say. "Who should we… thank for this… gift?"

"Oh, I don't know," Marie says. "you know how it is with zucchini."

Of course I do. Zucchini is the perfect crime. It's quiet. It's lethal. And it's absolutely untraceable. That's because nobody actually grows it. At least not on purpose. I just… happens. Like weeds. Or Chernobyl.

"So what are your going to do with yours?" I ask.

"I'll just do what I always do with zucchini," she says.

"Yeah," I say, knowingly. "Me too." By nightfall my zucchini is sleeping with the fishes.

Next morning I step into the office gingerly, afraid of what might be there waiting for me. I peek around the corner. No zucchini. But there is a slice of brown bread on a white napkin sitting on my desk. I eye it suspiciously. I pick it up. I smell it. It smells wonderful. I take a bite. It is wonderful!

"Who made the banana nut bread?" I ask, sinking my teeth into another mouthful.

Marie confesses. "Only it isn't banana nut bread," she says. "It's zucchini bread."

I stop chewing. "No way! This couldn't be zucchini. It's so… so…"

"Good?" she offers.

"Yeah - good!" I exclaim. "But I hate zucchini!"

"So do I," Marie admits. "And I used to hate it when people gave me zucchini."

"Abandon," I correct her. "People don't give zucchini; they abandon it. And zucchini isn't something your receive; it's something that happens to you."

"Whatever. One day I decided that there wasn't anything I could do to keep… well, to keep zucchini from happening to me. So I found this great recipe for zucchini bread, and now I actually look forward to zucchini season."

I take another bite of bread. Still wonderful. But I can't help wondering: "How could anything so tasty come from something so distasteful?"

"It's a fact of life," she says, philosophically. "You mix effort with creativity and you can turn almost anything around."

"Even zucchini?"

"Hey, zucchini happens," she says, handing me another slice of bread. "But the way I see it, when life hands you a zucchini, make zucchini bread!"

"Or in other words, never look an abandoned zucchini in the mouth."

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--- © 1998 Joseph Walker, "How Can You Mend A Broken Spleen." Used with permission.


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through and