Several years ago, our daugther-in-law's father, also a dear friend, who loved gardening (and knew we loved gardening), offered us some beans he called “Chaco Canyon”. It is an heirloom that dates back to the Anasazi natives of the Southwest. Without knowing much about them, we trusted our friend and planted them. They thrived - and that summer we had some of the best fresh beans we had ever grown!
The new green pods are very creamy and buttery, a wonderful alternative to the green beans we normally grow. Sautéing them in butter with a little olive oil and garlic made them the centerpiece of any meal. Chaco Canyon beans are also a great shell or soup bean - just leave them on the vine and let them mature in the pod. We didn’t have the chance to do that because we ate all the green ones!
The following year, Dr. Cook developed a terminal cancer and died. Our entire family was stunned and heartbroken to lose such a kind, loving soul.
In his honor, we wanted to plant the Chaco Canyon beans again. But unfortunately, all the heirloom seed companies we contacted were out. One of the largest, Baker Seed Company had not stocked them since 2007. We continued to search every year for three years, hoping they would magically appear, but to no avail.
This Spring, intent on finding them, we Googled the beans again and found a mention of them in a gardening blog A Kitchen Garden in Kihei Maui. So we contacted the author and explained that we were searching for Chaco Canyon beans - where could we buy some? She responded and said she had saved some from a previous year and offered to send them to us. We wanted to pay for the beans, the postage, etc., but she refused. And that is the heart of a true gardener - a desire to share knowledge, bounty, and the love of digging in the dirt.
The beans arrived this week (along with two other varieties she shared) and we immediately planted them. We can’t wait to see them sprout and to nurture them into bean pods. Although, this year, we will definitely save some seeds for next season. It will be a bittersweet harvest as we honor Rick who graciously shared his appreciation of life, living, and gardening.
What a journey - from Alaska to Hawaii to our home in Camas, Washington! Those magic beans will do more than bear fruit - they will span time and geography to connect souls who share the love of living things, nature, and the magic of growing food from seeds. We are grateful that so many people share these common goals and soulfully contribute to this special connection.