By Lorie Ham
On the evening of August 8, I heard a strange noise on the front doorstep. In this age of pandemic, this made me even more nervous than usual. Who would be at my doorstep this time of the evening? Was someone trying to steal my latest Amazon package I had forgotten to take in?
I put on my mask and grabbed the baseball bat near my front door. I slowly opened the door, hoping it was just the neighborhood cat and that there wasn’t some unmasked stranger standing there. I looked all around, but there was no one there. I took a deep breath, grabbed my Amazon package, and then froze. There on my doorstep was a basket of zucchini!
I took the package inside, quickly washed my hands, and then slipped back out to look over this mysterious bundle. There wasn’t a note anywhere, and the zucchini looked fresh so the person hadn’t left rotting zucchini out there as some sort of prank. But why on earth had someone done this? Was it some zucchini farmer trying to get people hooked so they would start buying zucchini? No that didn’t make sense, there was no way to be sure anyone would then buy it from that farmer.
I grabbed a flashlight and began looking all around the front steps for any kind of clue. Anything the mysterious zucchini phantom may have dropped, or footprints they may have left behind. But nothing. I sighed in exasperation. I didn’t like unsolved mysteries.
Giving up on my search for clues I gingerly picked up the basket and took it in the house. I put it on the kitchen counter, then went to sit in my recliner for a while continuing to puzzle out what could have happened. The basket seemed pretty ordinary, no lead to follow there. It wasn’t as if I could call the police and have them dust for prints or check for DNA, they would just laugh.
My tummy began to grumble, the zucchini did look awfully good. My mouth watered at the thought of grilled or fried zucchini. I hadn’t had that in ages. But what if it were poisoned? Did someone know I loved zucchini and they were using this as a clever ploy to poison me? Hmm, I really couldn’t think of anyone who hated me enough to do that. My ex and I had split amicably, I wasn’t in any kind of feud with a family member over an inheritance, and I worked from home so I didn’t have any coworkers who hated me. No this seemed unlikely, unless of course there was a poison zucchini serial killer!
I finally gave in, washed some of the zucchini, and started looking up recipes online. I found one that sounded good and easy, and went for it. It was delicious! When I was done stuffing my face with fried zucchini, I realized it was late and headed to bed, even though I was still bothered by the mystery of where it had come from.
The next morning as I went out to pick up my newspaper from the driveway my neighbor Charlie started waving at me and smiling. “So how did you like the zucchini?”
I gasped. It was from him? But why? “Um, it was great. Charlie why did you leave it on my doorstep without a note?”
He laughed. “Because August 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini on your Neighbor’s porch day. Didn’t you know that?”
Not wanting to appear uninformed, I smiled. “Oh yeah sure I knew that. Thanks.” I then grabbed my newspaper and rushed back inside and straight to my computer.
Sure enough, he was right! According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac website, apparently news and talk radio personality Tom Roy at wellcat.com created the holiday as a way for gardeners to rid themselves of extra produce. The article went on to say that at this time of year zucchini vines go crazy producing hundreds of tiny squash and that they quickly grow to gargantuan size if not picked. To celebrate this unusual holiday, you simply wait until the dead of night and quietly creep up to your neighbors’ front doors and leave plenty of zucchini for them to enjoy.
I laughed. Well now I had heard everything. A holiday for zucchini? But as I remembered how wonderful the fried zucchini tasted during the night, I thought maybe this is actually a great holiday! Maybe I should grow my own zucchini and sneak some on someone else’s doorstep next year.
I smiled and began looking up information on growing zucchini. A sinister laugh bubbled out of me. Next year I would be the zucchini phantom!