I had a handful of beans from earlier in the week and three people to feed at dinner, so I headed into the garden to see if there were any more (other than the few huge pods I’m letting ripen and dry for seed). “Hi,” I heard, amid the noise of the kids in the abutting backyard. “Hi!” I turned and located a friendly little girl in the treehouse, waving at me. I waved back and picked my way through the garden. (What’s up with that amaranth not changing?) I found another handful of beans, not a lot but enough for another one and a half servings.

“Hi!” I heard again. I looked at the treehouse first this time and found a different girl waving at me. I waved and said hi back and went inside. I suspect if I were spending more time in the garden lately I’d have two little friends.

Inside, I cleaned and snapped the beans and started water boiling. I added some salt, tossed in the beans, and called for Eric, who was the one who had requested them cooked simply with butter and salt and pepper. “How long am I supposed to cook these?”

He looked at me funny, which was reasonable since I’m usually pretty knowledgeable in the kitchen. “Look,” I told him. “I grew up eating green beans out of a can. As far as I was concerned, beans were dark gray-green and mushy and salty. I don’t understand these bright green, firm things.”

Once he got done laughing, he checked the beans and found they were done (minimal cooking, three or four minutes, so basically just blanching them), and advised me on the amount of butter and salt and pepper to put in. Next time, I was told, I am to put the butter into the water itself. I’m dubious about this, but it’s not like I have any knowledge to protest, so that’s what I’ll do. At least until I learn more about cooking green beans.