The largest potato I harvested from our garden this fall was the size of a small grapefruit–a yellow fleshed variety with a smooth surface, a rather irregular shape but nevertheless impressive in sheer bulk. It had been waiting on the shelf in the root cellar for just the right dinner this winter and tonight was the night.

I peeled it and to help it steam faster, started to halve and quarter it. I could tell as the knife went through it that something wasn’t quite right. And it wasn’t.

This beautiful spud was hollow with brown fleshy mush in the center–not rotten–no odor whatsoever, but internally a defective mess. Gorgeous outside, a shambles inside. There wasn’t really enough good potato to even steam up to eat. It was beauty only skin deep, with no substance within.

Potato hollowheart is an abnormality that occurs when a potato grows too quickly with uneven climate conditions–too much rain, too much fertilizer too quickly. I’m not sure why this potato suffered when the rest of my crop were regular size and all exposed to the same garden soil and weather. I don’t fertilize at all so this was a potato that simply went awry for reasons of its own.

It is a reminder that the best of the crop are the ones that tend to blend in with the rest–sometimes with scabs that need to be smoothed or peeled off, or a rough surface that requires extra cleaning, or too many eyes, or just a bit on the small side. But once they are cleaned and steamed and prepared, they are sweet and fleshy and buttery without butter. They are nearly perfect despite their plain outward appearance.

I don’t ever want to be discovered to have a hollow heart. Give me scabs and scars and wrinkles and puckers. But make my heart full, overflowing and sweet, with joy revealed inside a plain and rough outer skin, and all my grimy spots scrubbed clean.

2 thoughts on “Hollowheart

  1. Wonderfully stated. I think I have room for it in the last edition of the year if that’s okay. I’ve cut into commercial potatoes a FEW times and got a DRY brown/black hollow spot. Sometimes I can slice a bit of good flesh off one end and sometimes I can’t.


  2. I absolutely loved this post. It speaks to me not only of myself, but also as I raise my kids. The tendency is to focus on the outward appearance of accomplishment or “good” behavior. I want to get at the heart of the matter and allow the imperfections and mistakes of life to grow myself and my kids on the inside. Thanks for this beautiful analogy.
    I have yet to grow potatoes in my veggie garden. I don’t think I’d have the patience, and ugh, the disappointment of seeing this on the inside of a potato after all that waiting…


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