Lily is a character who is left behind halfway through book one and this is her story. It takes place at the same time as the second half of book one. As with book one, there is a big focus on gardening.
But who is Lily? Lily is Clare’s best friend. She turns 13 in Seed Savers-Lily. Lily likes to draw and write. She journals to sort out her feelings. In book two, we discover Lily is guerilla gardening in a future where gardening is illegal.
This is an excerpt where Lily experiences salad for the first time. If you don’t know anything about the Seed Savers series you might want to start here.
Ana was on her front porch rocking in a white wicker chair. A floral fragrance pleased my nostrils. Downtown never smelled like this. I realized I was smiling.
“Have you eaten?” Ana asked as I dragged my bicycle up the steps.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Well, I haven’t. You said you’d like to learn how to prepare food. I thought maybe we could start with a salad.”
My heart leaped. This was something I’d been dreaming about. All that lettuce growing around town and not knowing how to make it taste good.
“Okay,” I said. “I can always eat more.” I followed her in and plopped down in my usual spot at the table. She gave me a look that made me wonder what I’d done wrong.
“Lily, preparing food is not the same as prepared food. It entails effort.”
I jumped up. “Sorry.”
“I have already gathered the lettuce from the garden because it’s best done before it’s too warm outside,” Ana explained. “Easier to wash when it’s fresh and crisp.”
Wash? Of course you would wash food from a garden!
Ana opened her refrigerator and withdrew a bag filled with vibrant green and red lettuce leaves.
“This has already been washed, but let me explain the process. I like to fill the sink with water and submerge every leaf,” she said. “Make sure all the little critters float off.”
My face betrayed my surprise. “Critters?”
Ana smiled. “Yes, dear. We’re not the only ones who appreciate good food. Expect an occasional worm or bug, but don’t worry about it. That’s why we wash it. Also, sometimes it gets dirty from watering or rain when the soil splashes up.”
“But what if we miss a ‘critter’?” I persisted.
I wasn’t sure if this was a joke or if Ana was serious.
Ana continued with her instructions. “After the lettuce is submerged, I often pass each leaf under running water just to be sure, then drop it into my handy salad spinner.” She took an ancient plastic contraption out of her dish drainer and showed me how it spun. “This helps remove excess moisture. Now,” she said, opening the bag, “for the salad.”
Ana drew two plates from her cupboard. She tore up the leaves and placed a small pile on each plate. Opening the fridge again, she pulled out a tube-shaped green vegetable.
“Do you remember this one?” she asked as she held up the vegetable. I strained to remember. Like a foreign language, I found it hard to recall all the new words gardening introduced into my vocabulary.
“Cucumber,” Ana said. “They’re great in salad. Radishes and tomatoes also dress it up. But I’m afraid I don’t have either of those right now. However, I love the flavor of fresh herbs.” She opened a drawer and pulled out a large pair of scissors. “Come along.”
I followed Ana out the back door, nearly tripping over Mrs. Fluffbottom. Ana wove her way along the stone path, snipping here and there.
“I love a touch of dill,” she said. “Basil leaves are also good. And of course, cilantro. Parsley, chives, mint, whatever you’ve got and whichever you prefer.” Ana looked happy and healthy out among her plants. The herbs tucked in her apron pockets, she walked back toward the house, stopping only to cut off the tip-tops of some green onions. Once inside, Ana didn’t even wash the herbs, but simply snipped them over our salads. Just like that—from garden to plate. The fragrance was startling.
Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!
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