Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Books and Gardening

Oh hey, blog.
I've missed you, but I've been out of steam too many nights when I've finally had time to post anything.
I'm coming back, though.

I'm marathon training right now, and when I got home on Friday night from my 17.5 mile run, my neighbor had tilled my garden for me.
Bless him.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, there was a wholelotta work waiting out there in the yard.
I went out and mowed lawns and then spent the remainder of the afternoon planting my garden.
Rain threatened some of the time, dark clouds and thunder in the distance, and I caught the occasional drop on my arm.  I ignored it and put cherry tomatoes and tomatillos in the ground anyway.
I planted Lemon Boys (don't you love the rich yellow of lemon boys?) and a Cherokee Purple (hello, purple tomato!), some Big Beef, Celebrity, and Super Fantastics.
(And let me just say...they better be Super Fantastic.)
I planted every color of bell pepper: red, gold, orange, and green.
Had to plant an Anaheim chile and a couple of hot pepper plants for salsa or burgers or quesadillas or pepper jelly or spicy ranch for salads and tacos.
I separated skinny strands of Walla Walla onions and red onions, folding the dirt over them, propping them up as best I could from both sides with my hands.
Planting a zucchini and straightneck yellow squash is tradition, and I had to add butternut squash cuz it's so yummy, a couple cantaloupes, and some jack o' lantern pumpkins.  I lined the back of the garden with sweet corn.
Somewhere around the middle of the plot, I hoed a couple rows and carefully spaced beets and beans, and let me just say this: there is something about the planting seeds bit that always seems to feel like I'm gambling.  It's as though I'm scattering them with some hope and a prayer.  It's kind of miraculous to me that they come up, every year---cuz every year I wonder if they will.
But in my mind's eye, I look forward to peeling and roasting those beets with some olive oil and sea salt and pepper, and seeing their deep purple red juice ooze beautifully onto my white dinner plate.  

(But who am I's the taste I'm crazy about.)

And you know what, this gardening bit reminds me of this passage that the kids and I read a while back.  We recently finished reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, something I never read as a child.  And this passage moved me enough that I wrote it down to keep for thinking about, because I love it so much.

" is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.  What weather they shall have is not ours to rule."

I love that, maybe because it resonates so much with the idea of living in the present of your simple life and doing what you can: for you, for those you love, and for those you're blessed to know.  The idea of focusing on tilling your own little plot of earth---and life.  

And then, as a final note, I planted some cucumbers, too.
And since we're talking about books, I have to quote another section from a new book I'm reading.  I honestly don't remember the last time I read something that made me laugh out loud as frequently as this book is.  
I'm that woman that's in a quiet house at night once the kids are asleep, tucked into the warmth of my bed, delightfully chewing pebble ice, and interrupting the silence by bursting-out-loud laughing.

It's this lovely memoir about a guy restoring his 1951 International Harvester, and he likes to garden.  Apparently there's also a love story coming, too, but I haven't gotten to that bit yet.


The other night I was reading about where he was ordering seeds from a seed catalog and has this dilemma about cucumbers.  

(Note: I always debate about cucumbers.)

And he started the whole cucumber commentary by saying this:

"Ain't no such thing as a cucumber.  You've got your Sweet Slice Hybrid.  Your Fanfare.  The Ashley.  The Marketmore, the Cool Breeze, the County Fair Hybrid, the Orient Express, and the Sweet Success.  The Diva. ...Over sixteen variations on a cucumber in the space of a single page."

Oh my gosh.  I totally get this.  I really do.  

But then, he had to throw in this humorous bit, and it cracked me right up.

"The seed catalogs promote several varieties of 'burpless' cucumbers.  I have yet to find one promoted as 'burp-ish.'  This is flatly a missed marketing opportunity.  Among my rural and roughneck acquaintances are no small number of folks who not only savor the art of eructation, they cultivate it.  There are guys on the fire department capable of melisma.  I have seen a woman throw her head back beneath the Jamboree Days beer tent and let loose a burp so resonant polka dancers were moved to applause.  I know men longing to belch a full-length version of 'Free Bird.'  Beer works, but it impairs your ability to play air guitar.  There are people out here who would go out of their way to plant row on row of Burp-Mor Hybrids, County Fair Honkers, and Belching Divas."


What does one really say about that?
(the garden, and Claire's hair #forthewin)

You laugh, people, and that's all.

In any case, once I got those cucumbers in (Straight Eights, if you were wondering), I planted sweet basil and cilantro and rosemary in my herb planter on the deck.  Watered my lemon thyme that came back from last year.

And I'd be lying if told you that I haven't been admiring the hands-in-the-dirt work from the past week: 
the food that's started in the garden, along with zinnias in the flower bed, and several pots full of geraniums, spilling over with fuschia.
Ahhh summer, I can feel you coming on.

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