Today I drove into Austin to do a little shopping and have lunch with an old friend. My gardening gifts come in a wide range — I excel at harvesting and consuming — but my friend is an avid, enthusiastic, and experienced gardener. He has transformed the property around his home into a gorgeous landscape of herbs, flowers, and vegetables. It was breathtaking on a magnitude I didn’t know was possible in Central Texas.

Along with all the other crops, he plants squash. But only one plant of each variety, so as not to be overwhelmed with it. After all, he does live alone. Back home in the Upper Midwest the overabundance of squash comes much later in the season and tends to be zucchini more than any other variety. I am well-versed in the wisdom of locking one’s car doors while in the post office or other place of business to avoid coming back to a front seat containing the Bottomless Sack of Squash.

After a heat-shortened tour of the grounds, we took some squash inside and my friend worked some magic in the kitchen and produced breaded, cheesed, summer squash, fried to a golden, crisp perfection. It was absolutely spot on with a nice dry white wine. We also indulged in some strawberries with whipped cream. Quite a decadent feast for a Tuesday afternoon!

Can you guess what my friend handed me as I made ready to depart Austin before the rush hour really got going? Yes, of course you can.

On the drive home, I passed a small table on the side of the road, heaped to overflowing with summer squash of splendid variety. A large sign propped against the table leg read, “Free! PLEASE take some squash!”