Horseradish

Sometimes a good deed results in unintended consequences. Sometimes those consequences are bad, sometimes they are good, sometimes they are in the eye of the beholder.

A number of years ago, I was spading our garden to get it ready for planting. My neighbor was doing his garden with a rented rototiller and, when he was done, he saw me using a pitchfork and offered to relieve me of my manual task. I took him up on his offer but, while he was doing it, I remembered the one horseradish root that we had planted the prior year. We only harvest every other year, so it was still in the ground. 

So, instead of a single horseradish root, we suddenly had a dozen or more. Today, half of our garden is overtaken by horseradish every year and we have no idea or control over where it comes up. This is the bad part. Horseradish has very broad leaves that overshadow anything else we choose to plant in the garden so we attempt to do battle by cutting back the leaves to save the basil or jalapenos. We never win.

The good part is that we end up with all the prepared horseradish we ever wanted. This year, we have pickled two gallons of the stuff and we still have plenty left to process. This is an eye of the beholder situation. Being of Polish descent, I always see more horseradish as better. My wife, on the other hand, sees that we have put up two gallons already and sees any additional as a chore not worth doing. We actually give most of the horseradish away and I get to eat a pint or two before the next biannual harvest.

As we were digging up the roots this past weekend, I commented that our situation with the horseradish was a metaphor for not thinking through possible unintended consequences of an intended good deed. Like new or changed laws, not thinking through all of the consequences could leave you grinding more roots than you can possibly use.

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