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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Grateful after all


Want some rain? Got lots.

We've been waiting for three grueling weeks for weather that actually will let us into the garden.

When it's not actually bucketing down like Niagara, it's pouring white gravel that cascades down the roof and heaps itself up along the walls like winter snowdrifts. The chickens are on strike and spend the whole day indoors on their segregated roosts, the Reds glaring at the upstart Americaunas and vice versa.

The ducks -- not the brown ones, who parade up and down proudly with the geese in all weathers, but the white ones, who appear to think of themselves as fair weather foragers -- huddle in their inner pasture and shovel through the same mud over and over and over, till they look more like feathered nutria than anything else.

Under these conditions, housebound Risa is going slowly berserk.

She understands it's not Nashville, but gratefulness is maybe more work than she's up to. Both hands are very arthritic this May and self-pity was always one of her talents.

She did try to do a little broom-pulling down at the park.

In enough rain gear to probably rubber-band the cuffs and sleeves and go exploring on the moon.

She waddled out to the edge of the area of infestation and took out her frustrations on the Scotch broom, feeling her way through the job in her steamed-up glasses.

The broom fought back, of course, and it was a bit of a draw. Some of the invaders lay, roots up in token of surrender, in the rain, and Risa retreated, frazzled, broom-slapped and blackberry-bitten, to her truck and steamed up the windows instead. Her gloves lay huddled on the truck seat, shivering. It took awhile for her to pull her self together enough to drive home.

The park rangers didn't show. Whether they had enough to do on one of the other parks, or, like intelligent life, had looked out the window and remembered the paperwork needed catching up, she couldn't say.

There's a surprising amount of life to the garden, in spite of these conditions. No one in their right mind would reach for a trowel and the summer starts (tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers in our case), but the garlic, onions, bok choi, cabbage, kale, collards, peas, and favas are resolutely chugging along. And you should see the sunchokes!

For dinner last night, Risa cooked up some canneloni in a saucepan and reserved the water for yeast starter for today's baking. At the chopping block she cubed tofu, grated elephant garlic and walking onions, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and bok choi, kale and spinach leaf midribs. In a preheated iron skillet, she sauteed them in oil, tamari sauce and cheap sherry, and then served over the canneloni with choice of spaghetti sauce, medium salsa, or both. Salad on the side.

The salad, shown in progress here, is the soft parts of the bok choi, kale, and spinach leaves with two kinds of romaine lettuce and lots of fava leaves, scissored, with some onion greens, chives, chive blossoms and fresh marjoram scattered thoughout. Beloved likes hers with raspberry vinaigrette. Risa simply adds hers to the tofu layer over the canneloni.

Maybe she should be grateful after all.

The coldness soaked into her. -- Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Banks of Plum Creek

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