The Beer Garden: Grow your own!
This past September, as I do every September, I
attended my town's Oktoberfest. This fun
celebration of autumn and beer, held on two
weekends in September each year, is an annual
ritual heralding the arrival of fall. To me,
nothing says "September" like Oktoberfest.
Look, if you're going to get all hung up on the
fact that Oktoberfest happens in September, then
you're doing too much thinking and not enough
drinking, my friend.
(Disclaimer: That was a joke. Please drink
responsibly. And please think in moderation.)
Not that I wasn't thinking that night. As a
matter of fact, the creative juices were flowing
freely, and I had a brilliant insight when I
glanced up at a sign:
"Bier Garten" it said.
I don't speak German, but using my general
knowledge of linguistics, I was able to deduce the
meaning of this exotic phrase. That's when the
great idea struck me. As an avid gardener, I had
heard of people growing salsa gardens and lasagna
gardens and even pizza gardens. Next season, I
announced silently yet triumphantly to myself, I
will grow a beer garden.
Great gardening brainstorms like this often
occur in the autumn. In the spring and summer,
gardeners are too busy planting and tending the
garden to think about the big picture. So we really
enjoy the period of quiet contemplation that comes
after the harvest. Seeds may germinate in the
spring, but truly original and ingenious
ideas--like the beer garden--tend to take root in
My mind raced forward to next summer, and I
pictured the scene like this:
Late one sunny afternoon, I come in after a long
day of working in the garden. My wife greets me
with a kiss and a glass of ice-cold lemonade. We
retire to the patio to enjoy the sunset and some
good conversation as our children play in a
backyard bathed in warm golden light. It's a moment
of perfect domestic bliss.
Wife (resting her head softly on my shoulder and
gazing out toward the western horizon): What have
you been up to all this time?
Me: Oh, just doing a little gardening.
Wife: You know, I think it's just wonderful that
you devote so much of your free time to
Me: Really? Thanks!
Wife: You are such a dedicated husband and
father to work so hard growing healthy vegetables
for our family.
Me: Aw, it's nice of you to say so.
Wife: So many guys spend their weekends out on
the golf course or doing things with their buddies,
and here you are, right in the backyard, spending
quality time with the kids and providing us with
fresh, nutritious food. I'm so lucky.
Me: Oh, there's noplace I'd rather be. It's my
Wife: What exactly are you growing in the
Me (absentmindedly thumbing through the
newspaper, pretending not to hear).
Wife: I say, what are you growing out there?
Me: Oh, you know. The usual. Is there any more
Wife: Like what?
Me: Isn't the sunset glorious tonight?
Wife: Tomatoes? Corn? Help me out here.
Me: Well, not those particular plants. But, you
know, things that grow on stalks and vines. Have
you seen the sports section?
Wife: Why do you keep changing the subject? I'm
just interested in the delicious vegetables we'll
be enjoying this summer. What stalks and vines?
Me: I don't see why you're getting so defensive.
If you must know, I'm growing some grains. Grains
are very healthy, you know.
Wife: Grains? What kind of grains?
Me: Barley, for one.
Wife: I've never heard of growing barley in a
home garden. But I suppose I could make that
vegetable barley soup you like.
Wife: What else? You mentioned vines. Pumpkins?
Me: No, not exactly. More like, you know, hops
Wife: OK, what the hell's going on here?
Me: What do you mean?
Wife: Why are you spending hours a day tending a
crop of barley and hops instead of things we can
Me: It's a beer garden.
(Sound of screen door slamming.)
Me (following her into the house): Honey? Just
listen. It's really a great idea. See, we'll save a
lot of money by brewing our own fresh...
(Sound of bathroom door slamming.)
Me (talking sweetly through the door):
Me: Please don't scrape off that fungus growing
on the shower curtain.
Wife: Why not?
Me: It's my yeast.
© 2011 John
Other Father Issues,
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Parents are the bones on which children sharpen
their teeth. - Peter Ustinov
is a dad, a writer, and a lawyer (in that order).
He writes a syndicated biweekly humor column about
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