Home on the Range

Over the back fence

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Competition is not your thing. You spent your formative years in a small schoolhouse where teachers fostered tolerance, teamwork and a taste for tie-dye. You earned no grades, trophies or badges. You shared your feelings.

So it comes as a surprise that now, far removed from schoolhouse days, you find yourself keeping up with the Joneses. Or, more to the point, not keeping up.

It's spring; time to sprinkle the ground with seeds and hope they'll grow. Your goal is low: to let the school-age set pick pea or berry or bean. Which might foster tolerance, teamwork and a taste for tomato.

Trowel in hand, you gaze across the fence and are met with industry. The Joneses, big and little, are busy building bunkers. Raised beds, explains Mrs. Jones. Suddenly, your dirt-level dirt looks so low.

Mrs. Jones takes delivery of a truckload of fancy soil. Now your dirt-level dirt looks dirty. Mr. Jones hauls in potted persimmon, masses of marigolds, flats of strawberry seedlings.

You drive to the nursery and choose strawberries. Back home you dig them into the dirty dirt-level dirt. You wonder if that droopy look is how plants share their feelings.

Later, you lean over the fence, neighbor-style. You point with pride to your strawberries, all six. Mrs. Jones offers a tolerant smile. She's already put in 75. Twice.

You sigh. You note that feral cilantro and mint have sprung up in the herb plot, in the flower plot and in the sidewalk. You claim no credit for such weedy excess. But you are willing to share.

Freethinking mint/cilantro/ shrimp wraps

Prep: 30 minutes
Grill: 6 minutes
Makes: 8 small wraps, serves 4

1 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, degermed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
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