Zucchini Bandit

(Based on a true story)
Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance (Jacob 2:17).

“Look, Dad,” Clay called. “Aunt Pat gave me seeds.”

Clay held up a small envelope that rattled when he shook it. The word Zucchini was printed on it above a picture of a long green vegetable that looked a lot like a cucumber. “Aunt Pat says I should have a garden.”

Dad smiled. “But it will be good old Dad who does the digging.”

True to his word, Dad helped Clay dig out a patch of grass next to the fence. Then they loosened up the soil, planted the zucchini seeds, and watered them well.

For several weeks they watched and waited and wondered if anything was happening. It was. After a rainy day followed by three sunny days, tiny plants peeked out of the soil. From then on, the growing didn’t stop. A jungle of vines soon fought for the small space. Big spiky leaves tangled through the fence in one direction and sprawled across the grass in the other. Clay worried that the giant plants would take over the whole backyard.

Soon golden blossoms opened up and jiggled in the summer breeze as if they were laughing at a secret joke. The blossoms turned into little green pickles that seemed to explode overnight into long, pudgy zucchini. The zucchini hid shyly beneath the prickly leaves. Clay learned to scout them out.

Zucchini poured from the garden in a tidal wave. Awash in the big green vegetable, Clay’s mother learned many zucchini recipes. She cooked zucchini with onions, tomatoes, and sour cream. She filled zucchini with cheese and stuffed it with ground beef. She baked zucchini bread with raisins and mixed grated zucchini with chocolate to make cookies and brownies.

“I’d better watch out,” Clay said the night Mom served bowls of zucchini soup. “Next I’ll be eating zucchini cereal for breakfast.”

“Actually, I thought we might try zucchini-oatmeal muffins tomorrow morning,” Mom said.

“I’ve created a monster,” Clay thought. “I’ve got to find a way to get rid of some zucchini.”

“Tell Aunt Pat to come get some of this stuff,” Dad joked.

That gave Clay an idea. He could give other people a chance to enjoy his zucchini!

Early the next morning, he fought his way through the zucchini jungle, hunting for the elusive vegetables. He filled four brown paper bags and carried them quietly out of the yard.

The Wagners next door surely needed some zucchini. Clay looked around. The front door was closed. The curtains were drawn. He didn’t want to be thanked for his gift, so he tiptoed onto the porch, set one of the sacks beside the door, and hurried down the sidewalk.

At the next house, a newspaper still lay on the step. Expecting someone to come out for it at any moment, Clay dropped a sack beside the paper and scurried away.

Scarcely pausing, he made two more deliveries. Soon he was strolling home zucchini-free.

A few days later, Clay picked his crop again, packed four more brown bags, and made quick stops at the same four houses. All went well.

The third time Clay made his secret deliveries, a surprise waited for him. At the third house, right where he always set the bag, lay a white envelope. Large letters printed on it read, “To the Zucchini Bandit.”

Clay set down a bag of zucchini, picked up the note, and ran home, the fourth bag still clutched in his hand.

He dashed into the house. Mom was sitting at the table sipping orange juice and yawning. “Good morning,” she said. “You were out in the yard early again. What do you have in the bag?”

“Um, zucchini.” Clay plunked the bag down on the table.

“Oh good,” Mom said. “We haven’t had any for several days now.”

“Be back in a minute.” Clay hurried into his room, closed the door, and leaned against it. “Oh no,” he thought, staring at the envelope crumpled in his sweaty hand. “They’ve probably seen me and are warning me to stay away or they’ll call the police.” He straightened out the envelope, unstuck the flap, and pulled out a sheet of paper.

Dear Robin Hood of Vegetables,

Thank you for sharing your wealth with me. I haven’t had such fresh zucchini in a long time. It still has morning dew on it when I bring it in.

Sincerely, Your Grateful Friend

“Robin Hood of Vegetables,” Clay read aloud. He smiled. For the first time since they had started growing, he hoped he wouldn’t run out of zucchini.

[Render Service]

President James E. Faust

“The greatest fulfillment in life comes by rendering service to others.” President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “What’s In It for Me?”, Ensign, Nov. 2002, 22.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Mark Robison