The week I stayed with Uncle Alex and Aunt Cindy was the week their garden cranked out a year’s supply of zucchini. Uncle Alex called it the “Zucchini Explosion.”
Uncle Alex is a lot like me, only grown up. We even have the same name, sort of. You see, my name is Elliot Alexander Cranton. His name is Alexander Elliot Cranton. Aunt Cindy says we’re quite a pair.
We ate supper on the patio the first night, and there it was on my plate—zucchini. Uncle Alex is a lot of fun, and I like Aunt Cindy too. But zucchini and I don’t get along at all. They look like giant cucumbers, and they just mush around in your mouth.
I ate as much as I could stand, then spread the rest around on my plate. I didn’t want to hurt Aunt Cindy’s feelings, but I didn’t want to eat the zucchini, either.
After supper three of Aunt Cindy’s friends stopped by to visit.
“Would you like to take home some zucchini?” she asked them.
“My family won’t eat them,” said the tall one.
“My family won’t touch them,” said the short one.
“My family won’t even look at them,” said the one in between.
I wasn’t surprised.
Uncle Alex and I excused ourselves and went to catch lightning bugs.
We caught about twenty-five and put them into a jar. I thought the breathing holes in the lid were small enough when I took the jar into the kitchen, but I guess they weren’t.
I don’t know why Aunt Cindy was so upset. Only one got on her foot. The rest were on the ceiling. And the walls. And the floor.
“Alexander Elliot and Elliot Alexander,” she shouted, “get these bugs out of my kitchen!”
“If you insist, but we sure could have saved on the electric bill,” Uncle Alex joked.
The next night we ate in the kitchen. We had a zucchini casserole. I offered to scrape the dishes so that Aunt Cindy wouldn’t see how much I’d left on my plate.
After dinner, Uncle Alex and I hunted for fishing worms. We put them into a paper cup with some dirt, then put the cup into the refrigerator to keep the worms fresh.
“Alexander Elliot and Elliot Alexander,” shouted Aunt Cindy when she looked in the refrigerator, “what’s this next to the zucchini?”
She looked into the cup. “Get these worms out of my kitchen!”
Aunt Cindy did not even want to understand about keeping worms fresh.
We ate in the dining room the next night. We had zucchini with some kind of sauce on them. I’d swallowed more zucchini that week than I’d eaten before in my whole life. But it wasn’t enough for Aunt Cindy.
She looked at our plates and shook her head. “I’ve already put away more zucchini than we’ll need for the winter.”
“Leave the zucchini to us,” said Uncle Alex.
“Sure,” said Aunt Cindy, smiling a little. “You two are just like those zucchini. I don’t know what to do with them, and I don’t know what to do with you!”
After supper I helped Uncle Alex move the picnic table out by the road. We put the zucchini on the table. I made a sign that said ZUCCHINI—20¢ EACH.
Eight cars went by. I changed the price to ten cents.
Fourteen more cars went by. No luck.
I made a new sign that said ZUCCHINI—FREE TO A GOODHOME. Sixteen cars later, we gave up.
“Let’s look in Aunt Cindy’s cookbook,” I suggested. “Maybe we can find a recipe for chocolate-covered zucchini.”
“I’ll try anything,” said Uncle Alex.
We went into the kitchen and got out the cookbook.
“Uncle Alex,” I asked, “why doesn’t Aunt Cindy ever make zucchini bread? It sounds kind of good.”
“It is,” Uncle Alex said. “You don’t even know you’re eating zucchini. Aunt Cindy says it’s fattening.”
“Let’s make some.”
That was when I found out that Uncle Alex is not very handy in the kitchen, especially with messy things like flour and eggs. After we put the bread in the oven and were just starting to clean up, Aunt Cindy came in with her three friends.
“Alexander Elliot and Elliot Alexander,” she shouted, “what have you done to my kitchen?”
I don’t know why she was so upset. There was just a little flour on the counter. And on the floor. And on Uncle Alex.
“What is that wonderful smell?” asked Aunt Cindy’s tall friend.
“It’s zucchini bread,” I told her.
“How delightful!” said the short one.
“It does smell delicious,” said the one in between.
When the bread was done, Uncle Alex cut a slice for each of us, even Aunt Cindy.
It was really good, and it didn’t mush around in my mouth.
Uncle Alex gave each lady the recipe and a big sack full of zucchini.
“Oh, thank you,” said the tall one.
“How thoughtful of you,” said the short one.
“Are you sure you don’t want to keep some for yourselves?” asked the one in between.
The next day, Uncle Alex and I picked three zucchini from the garden. We took them in to Aunt Cindy.
“Alexander Elliot and Elliot Alexander,” she shouted, “get those zucchini out of my kitchen!”