Category Archives: winter garden

on making soup from what you have.

Cooking for a family isn’t quite the thrilling experiment that cooking for a partner or a group of friends used to be. You have less money, less time, and a more critical audience than you ever did before.  I find its hard to try new recipes when they invariably necessitate a trip to the store, and I’m bound and determined to cook with whole foods and the ingredients I already have laying around.  A few months ago a friend asked me for a soup recipe, and I had to admit I didn’t have a recipe…

just a method.
here it is.

1. Begin, always, with onions.

1. Begin, always, with onions.

2. Be fearless with your spices, and buy them in bulk so they are fresh and cheap.

2. Be fearless with your spices, and buy them in bulk so they are fresh and cheap.

3. Grow at least one of your ingredients yourself. it feels good to harvest into your cookpot.If you can’t, make it a point to buy direct from a farmer every now and then.  Look for a local farmer @ your farmers market who doesn’t advertise as organic, & ask them if they use pesticides. Many, like Whistling Train Farm who sell @ almost every Seattle Farmers Market, grow without chemicals but cannot afford the organic certification— their veggies are more affordable than the ones labelled “organic.”

3. Grow at least one of your ingredients yourself. it feels good to harvest into your cookpot.
If you can’t, make it a point to buy direct from a farmer every now and then. Look for a local farmer @ your farmers market who doesn’t advertise as organic, & ask them if they use pesticides. Many, like Whistling Train Farm who sell @ almost every Seattle Farmers Market, grow without chemicals but cannot afford the organic certification— their veggies are more affordable than the ones labelled “organic.”

4. Cook with your nose and your sense of color. Both should delight you. If they don’t, add more of something that does.Use things from your fridge that are wilting or nearing expiration. Waste not want not.

4. Cook with your nose and your sense of color. Both should delight you. If they don’t, add more of something that does.
Use things from your fridge that are wilting or nearing expiration. Waste not want not.

5. you will almost never go wrong by adding more garlic or more greens.

5. you will almost never go wrong by adding more garlic or more greens.

6. Chickpeas or red lentils will give a protein boost, add heartiness, and scarcely impact the flavor.

6. Chickpeas or red lentils will give a protein boost, add heartiness, and scarcely impact the flavor.

7. At least 2 of these items go into almost everything I make. (apple cider vinegar, braggs liquid aminos, tahini, miso paste, lemon juice, toasted sesame oil, nutritional yeast)

7. At least 2 of these items go into almost everything I make. (apple cider vinegar, braggs liquid aminos, tahini, miso paste, lemon juice, toasted sesame oil, nutritional yeast)

8. Make your kitchen (or at least a corner of it) into a place you find lovely.

8. Make your kitchen (or at least a corner of it) into a place you find lovely.

10. A library of inspiring cookbooks just in case.

9. A library of inspiring cookbooks just in case.

10. take notes on your successes

10. take notes on your successes

11. Figure out what your cooking music is (mine is Gillian Welch) and keep in mind that a good apron never hurts.

11. Figure out what your cooking music is (mine is Gillian Welch) and keep in mind that a good apron never hurts.

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Filed under aprons, basic goodness, Family, Food, Garden, Ordinary, Vegan Recipes, wendell berry, winter garden

on a sunny saturday morning at the end of september

i wake up ready to write
after a rare Friday night off work
dinner out with my loving husband
and a reading by Cheryl Strayed,
a writer I respect and admire
the words are at my fingertips
and i know if i sit down, i will create

but everything seems to conspire to keep me from my writing desk
kiddo needing breakfast
the broken seal on the toilet
the mouse that refuses to leave or be killed
the overripe plums that are attracting fruit flies
the kale and chard that need planting
the laundry that needs doing after the boy peed on the bathroom floor
the chickpeas that are done soaking, and need cooking
the garden tools that are overdue @ the tool library
the diaper explosion that presents itself at the hardware store
the little old Korean man who did not show up to work today
and thus, could not fill my empty print cartridge
and these are only some of the things
I lose my patience
gather it
and lose it again

Callum is sitting in one of his emptied out toybins,
eating peanut butter pretzels
i kneel down to apologize for yelling
and kiss his forehead
when i walk away
i taste salt

it may have come from the pretzels,
onto his sweet, two year old hands,
which he then brushed across his forehead
or it may have come from the tears of rage
i shed earlier
reading a friend’s news about breast cancer.

but then i think about the way she told us,
fearless and funny as hell, like she always is
promising plenty of profanity and the kind of fierceness
that only a mother can bring to a fight

and i gather
laugh
cry
meditate
and put my hands to work again.
harvest acorn squash
write about the 1992 World Uranium Hearings
move the laundry to the dryer

wash
spin
dry
put away
clothe
pick up
repeat
Amy said the other night
and its true.

i take comfort, always
in the solidarity of mothers

acorn squash harvest and a lone Blue Hubbard

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Filed under basic goodness, Food, Garden, love, motherhood, Ordinary, winter garden, writing

Coexistence

images

I’ve been particularly attuned to the weather for the last few weeks, because I planted my autumn/winter garden seeds at the beginning of September. Walking to work on nice days, I’ve been guessing at the heat of the light and the number of hours its been landing on the garden, warming the seeds. We had lots of days like that, interspersed with gentle September rainbursts, which I gloried in, imagining the droplets seeping down through warm soil to nourish emerging seeds. It was the perfect weather for starting a cool-season garden.

autumn in the garden 1: ripening tomato

autumn in the garden 1: ripening tomato

Witnessing vegetables sprout from seeds is one of my favorite things, so I watch my garden like a hawk in the days after I plant it. When they’ve had enough time to germinate, I start checking every few hours, increasingly giddy and paranoid. Giddy because I know tiny green shoots will appear at any moment. Paranoid because I know as soon as the shoots appear, the snails will come. They decimated my spring starts, migrating into my garden under cover of darkness by the hundreds and chomping the plants down to the dirt. So, as I took satisfaction in the garden-friendly September weather, I also because increasingly neurotic, imagining hordes of gastropods converging on my garden to destroy everything I’d planted and yearned for.

Autumn in the garden 2: pumpkins

Autumn in the garden 2: pumpkins

As the day neared when the seeds would sprout into the daylight, I became increasingly obsessed with tactics to protect them. I could use poison to keep the snails out. Or something less toxic; say a beer trap for them to slime into and drown. I could even follow the example of New Zealand grandmother Oriole Parker-Rhodes, who decided to one-up the helix aspersa by harvesting them right along with her garden veggies and serving them up in butter and garlic.

Oriole Parker-Rhodes

Oriole Parker-Rhodes

But weirdly enough, even though the snails destroy something I love SO much… I can’t bring myself to kill them. For a couple reasons.

First: its hard for me to kill anything, honestly, which is part of the reason why I am mostly vegan. [I eat fish maybe once a month, cheese once a week or so, and meat once or twice a year. Every meal I cook at home is vegan.]

Second: I’ve come to realize that each of my actions—particularly those that involve consumption—have far reaching consequences. I recently discovered that, in addition to creating a carbon footprint, I am also creating a water footprint. Josh Harkinson recently published a fantastic article on the subject in Mother Jones. Chew on this:

[Farmer] Shawn Coburn, turned toward me and demanded if I knew how much water it took to grow one almond, a cantaloupe, or a pound of tomato paste. (I didn’t. Turns out it’s 1 gallon, 25 gallons, and 55 gallons, respectively.) “The people in the city, they don’t know what their footprint on nature is,” he scoffed. “They sit there in an ivory tower and don’t realize what it takes to keep them alive.”

autumn in the garden 3: peppers

autumn in the garden 3: peppers

Farmer Shawn is right. We have no idea what it takes to keep us alive. After reading Harkinson’s article, I did some research and discovered that being mostly-vegan also enables me to reduce my water footprint by nearly TWO TONS every year. Once I learned that, I became obsessed with my two tons of not-wasted water. Where was it? I started imagining a tiny, two-ton alpine lake, ringed with talus slopes and huckleberry plants. Every day in the year I abstain from consuming animal products, the lake gets a little deeper. If I’m dawdling in the shower, I picture my lake-level dropping, and I turn the water off. I try to only water my garden at night or in the early morning, and if a dry spell goes on for too long, I will stop watering altogether and let my garden die until the rains come again.

I suspect that, akin to the imaginary lake filled with water I have Not wasted, there is an unseen ecological consequence of all the snails I have Not killed.

I’m not against using scare tactics. The other day, while helping me rake leaves and fill holes our dogs had dug in the yard, my friend Gretchen picked up a snail to study it more closely. Her chocolate lab puppy Butters darted up and licked the snail, top to bottom.

Butters, prior to snail-attack, in bottom left.

Butters, prior to snail-attack, in bottom left.

Gretchen turned the snail to face her and informed it seriously: “Tell all your friends. This is what we do to snails around here.” Then she tucked it safely in an empty potting container, from whence I deposited it in the (covered) compost cone later that day, to live out its snail-life in a paradise of rotting vegetable matter.

I’m too lazy and squeamish to pick them off my garden at night with a flashlight, like Thich Naht Hahn does at Plum Village. Some online gardeners suggest lining your garden with hair clippings, but I don’t have any at the moment. I have lots of dog hair, but I’m sure it would blow away. Eggshells are also supposed to dissuade snails from crossing into your garden, but being a predominantly vegan household, we don’t generate any eggshells. Copper is also rumored to dissuade snails and slugs via a tiny shock to their tender bellies (vaguely Guantanamo, but still non-lethal), so I tried lining my garden with pennies. It seemed to be working, but then they started getting knocked off the edge of the bed by unshocked and/or braver snails, clearing a path for their legions of followers.

By the time I’d pulled together a little extra cash to buy copper wire to wrap around my 36 foot garden perimeter, it was too late. The snails had made short work of my babies. Six rows of winter greens, chomped all the way down to the root. And despite all those hours of obsessing over my seeds, weather patterns, and non-lethal slug aversion techniques, I wasn’t angry at first. Just sad and frustrated.

I comforted myself with the concept of coexistence. I thought of a conversation I had last week with Dharma teacher and organic gardener Dan Peterson, who reflected thoughtfully that the snails probably enjoyed eating his garden just as much as he did. Staring ruefully at my decimated garden, I thought about Aldo Leopold, who noted in the Sand County Almanac, that humans are simply “plain members of the biotic community.” Who’s to say those snails’ pleasure is any less important than mine? I’ve identified philosophically with deep ecology since my early twenties romance with the writings of Gary Snyder. I agree with deep ecology’s founder Arne Næss, who wrote in 1973: “The right of all forms [of life] to live is a universal right which cannot be quantified. No single species of living being has more of this particular right to live and unfold than any other species.”

Still, this was MY garden! Those winter greens belonged to Ryan and I. We were going to use the kale in soups, as and bake it in olive oil and salt. The spinach was going to get drowned in peanut sauce and served up with tofu, and the rainbow chard was destined for hundreds of breakfast scrambles. I clambered into the garden and knelt down, searching in vain for any surviving green. There was none. Now I was mad. I shouted at the alley, and retreated into the house.

Later, I listened to a recording of a talk Dan Peterson had given at the Seattle Shambhala Center on mind terma, the treasures of Buddhist teaching passed from teacher to student through the generations. I’m not a practicing Buddhist, and I have trouble sitting still, so a lot of Buddhist teachings sail straight over my head. But Dan tells great stories, and his talk pulled me in. He talked about “how we wake up, moment by moment.” I thought of all those days I’d taken note of the weather and the light, and all the times I’d knelt by the edge of the garden to watch for the tiny miracle of green sprouts pushing their way up through the dirt. Moment after moment of awakening to my surroundings, to the intimate process of growing food. The moment of discovering decimation by snails contained an equal amount of awe— awe at destruction, not creation. But in that destruction, the snails thrived, and something else was created. Dan told a story from his own garden:

In the morning I go out into the garden in my barefeet to water, and I had the experience of stepping barefoot on a slug. It felt like electricity. It was a sentient being! So I would gather the slugs in a plastic container and carry them to my compost heap. I kept it moist, and they were fine there. Later, I found literally fifty to eighty slugs coming out of the compost heap, and they were all lined up in the same direction, going back to the garden! Our regard for what we call slugs can be east. We can be facing east when we look at a slug. There’s no enemy.

By facing east, Dan was referring to a Shambhala chant. “Radiating confidence, peaceful, illuminating the way of discipline, Eternal Ruler of the Three Worlds, may the Great Eastern Sun be victorious.” He explained:

The East represents richness, brilliance, and is the quality of unconditional experience… Peaceful means that there’s no aggression, which means there’s no territory. There’s complete openness. With no territory, there is primordial confidence. There’s nothing to defend, no enemy. This is a lot of conceptual load to put onto the simplicity of direct experience, but I think its helpful to point out that’s what happening. There’s no enemy… Radiating confidence, peaceful, is east.

I tried facing east. Watching snails destroy my planting, after all those weeks of tending and watching and waiting, was an opportunity. A pile of direct experience to wade into and consider.

There is no territory. The garden Ryan and I built belongs no more to me than it does to the snails. The land the garden sits on belongs no more to my landlord than it does to me. We are all of us only dwelling here for a little while. Here, in my decimated garden, was my deep ecology philosophy made real. How could I be angry? There was no enemy. I took deep breaths. Felt peaceful.

A couple brussel sprout plants were large enough to survived the snails, so today I planted some company for them. Stopped by the West Seattle Nursery and picked up small starts of red cabbage, kale, broccoli, winter greens mix, and some onion and garlic bulbs, all big enough to (hopefully) survive the oncoming snails and frosts.

starting over.

starting over.

It begins again.

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Filed under Aldo Leopold, Arne Næss, autumn weather, coexistence, Dan Peterson, Deep Ecology, facing east, Food, Garden, Gary Snyder, mostly vegan, Sand County Almanac, september in seattle, Shambhala Buddhism, snails in the garden, water footprint, West Seattle Nursery, winter garden

sunrises of the mountain and urban varieties

Imagine waking up with your nose poking out of a sleeping bag misted in morning dew. You’re briefly annoyed about the dew, but you remember that’s the price of sleeping out under the stars, and you’re glad it didn’t rain, at least. You pull the mummysack drawstring more snugly around your face and stare at the greyblue northwest sky, jagged between the evergreens. It may have been hot yesterday, but its September in Cascadia, and the mountain nights are chilly—mornings before sunrise even chillier, somehow. There is the possibility of coffee, or hot tea, once you crawl out of your sleeping bag, but for now you are comfortably ensconced, so you lay there. You can smell the campfire smoke in your hair and maybe someone you love is closeby, or maybe you are alone. You glory in either circumstance.

There is nothing like waking up in the mountains.

A sunspot appears on the pinedirtground next to you, and you watch it snake across the clearing, setting individual shoots of grass to glowing as it goes. Tendrils of steam-mist begin to curl off the damp earth. The patch of sunlight continues to grow, crawling into all the corners it abandoned for shadow last night. The pine smell gets headier in the sunlight, somehow. You are caught up in these individual moments and then you realize suddenly; Sunrise is happening. You get swept up in everything turning gold and the sky being born as an entirely new hue, and last night being over and tomorrow beginning which is happening now, incidentally, and suddenly the sunlight is racing up the evergreens at the foot of the clearing, branch by branch, climbing the trees like a cat, and then its leaping off the treetops and spilling down the mountainsides, and a whole new day is begun.

You’re left a little breathless by the whole thing.

As far as I’m concerned, mountain sunrises are as good as it gets. Urban sunrise has never really moved me that way.

Confession. I don’t tend to get up for sunrise in the city. I’m a lunch/dinner waitress (read: never have to be at work before ten and usually get off long after sunset). Its a worklife that’s enabled me to continue my college hours (read: I get most of my writing done in the middle of the night). I don’t see much beauty in sun hitting skyscrapers, and glowing pavement isn’t that interesting, unless it has shadows.

Its not like I live in some horrible concrete jungle. Confession: I actually live in the most beautiful city in the world. At least the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen. Seattle is surrounded by water, islands, and mountain peaks, and I live on the westernmost face of the city, on the westernmost edge of the last hill before the water, which means that our neighborhood looks over a wide stretch of the Puget Sound, backed by Blake Island, Vashon Island, Bainbridge Island, and the Kitsap Peninsula. These landmasses are covered in Evergreen trees, and behind those trees are the jagged and often-snow-capped teeth of the Olympic Mountains, and there’s usually a couple green and white Washington State ferries chugging across the water.

SO, if I bothered to get up and walk to the end of my street, I could take in a pretty damn picturesque sunrise, from the city. I could also walk up over the crest of the hill and watch the sunrise hitting the 14,000 foot peak of Mt. Rainier and the neighboring Cascade range (the setting of many versions of the aforementioned mountain sunrise).

Granted, there aren’t too many buildings in my views, so maybe those sunrise varieties wouldn’t qualify as urban. I’ll mull over that. The point of this blog is, I saw the sun rise in the city this morning, and my view didn’t have any mountains, or islands, or ferries. And it was still magic. (and you thought this blog didn’t have a point).

I laid awake last night listening to Ryan and the dog sleep-breathing, mentally poking thru garden and cupboards, plotting a dinner with friends. This morning, after Ryan left for the first day of school on his new scooter, I putzed around cleaning the kitchen, and then went outside to dump the compost jar. The sky was still darkish, and the grass was wet, because it is September in the northwest. A zillion fruit flies plumed up out of the compost cone when I pried the lid off, and I waved my hand around my face and thought, “goddamn it, I hate fruit flies. I hate it when I wait to take the compost out until its gotten nasty in the jar. I like compost when it is freshly chopped vegetable remnants, and gorgeous rich humus for my garden, and I am not big on it during the in-between stages.”

But then it occurred to me that compost reminds me of autumn, which is the time when the year rots into itself and creates the mulch for next year. Compost is a creative process, and autumn is a creative time, for me. I tapped the last of the sludge out of the jar, closed the lid of the compost cone, and turned around, feeling satisfied about autumn. Noticed the maple outside our backdoor was starting to turn colors, one of my favorite things about our little urban backyard. Noticed the sunlight creeping across the grass.

It hadn’t occurred to me yet that sunrise was happening, just that it was light enough to spot ripe vegetables in the garden. Went to poke around under the leaves. Picked a good size zucchini, 3 pattypan squash, a handful of tomatoes, and a fistful of basil. Noticed the sunlight creeping across the uneven bricks of our backyard patio, and glowing on the weeds growing out of the cracks between the uneven bricks. Started to walk up the steps, balancing all the garden vegetables, and noticed the gold light inching up the steps alongside me.

Suddenly, I realized I was watching the sun rise. There was no dramatic vista, no glowing peaks or shimmering saltwater. There was only our dear little backyard in the city, getting drenched in the gold light of Wednesday, on the first day of school.

I stood there, holding an armload of vegetables on our little cement back stoop, grinning like a fool, and watching the sunrise crest the sage plant and pick up speed as it climbed up the dark blue pot on the top step and into the forest of basil. It was at that moment that the sun itself crested the hill behind me, and the warmth joined with the light and set the sweetpea vine glowing alongside the backdoor.

I had an inane thought:

“I just watched the sunrise in the city, and it was beautiful.”

Inane because: I live in a beautiful city, in which I have a backyard, and a garden, a privilege many city-dwellers don’t have. It made me wonder: would it occur to me to watch sunrise if it illuminated ugly things? Would those things look less ugly in the warm light, or more?

And I went inside and arranged the garden bounty on the windowsill.

IMG_2316

windowsill

windowsill

basil driftwood ikebana

basil driftwood ikebana

A few snapshots from the weekend, just because….

spinach and bok choy starts for the winter garden, rescued from a friday night rainstorm

spinach and bok choy starts for the winter garden, rescued from a friday night rainstorm

Auntie Em visits from Spokane for the weekend.

Auntie Em visits from Spokane for the weekend.

makes pancakes in a scooter helmet

makes pancakes in a scooter helmet

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Filed under fathoming, Food, Garden, outside, waitressing, winter garden

April Kitchen

“The passive American consumer, sitting down to a meal of pre-prepared or fast food, confronts a platter covered with inert, anonymous substances that have been processed, dyed, breaded, sauced, gravied, ground, pulped, strained, blended, prettified, and sanitized beyond resemblance to any creature that ever lived… The products of nature and agriculture have been made, to all appearances, the products of industry.  Both eater and eaten are thus in exile from biological reality.”

Wendell Berry

8:04 on a Saturday evening, sitting at the kitchen desk drinking cheap red wine from a tiny rainbow San Francisco mug and breathing deep as the light fades from the sky, on our second day in a row without rain.  Dogwood trees are bursting out in pink blossoms all over the neighborhood, and when I walked home from my lunch shift, there was still fresh snow on the Olympics across the water.  Ryan puts a Miles Davis record on and sets to toasting, chopping, grinding and sauteeing an intoxicating combination of herbs and spices…  cardamon, ginger, onion, garlic, fenugreek, cloves, cumin, and coriander—all the fixins for Red Lentil Dahl from scratch.  The rice cooker is hissing softly on the counter.  Assata wakes up under the table and wanders sleepily out into the twilight of the freshly mowed backyard… I sip my wine and scribble maps of the garden in my journal, plotting my first spring planting tomorrow.  I’ve got a windowsill full of spinach, started from seed a month ago, and some little broccoli and butter lettuce starts Mom brought by last week, all of them eager to escape their tiny pots and set their roots into the soil.

The garden has been true to us all through the snow and frost and cold of winter 2008-2009… up until December we were still img_0094nibbling on tiny tomatoes that ripened in bowls on the windowsill.  In February we harvested the last of the brussel sprouts, which performed exquisitely after being boiled for 3 minutes, then sauteed in garlic and olive oil, after which we dipped them in veganaise and rolled our eyes in sheer joy.  the row of mixed kale has sprouted through every imaginable sort of Seattle winter weather, including our epic 2 plus weeks of snow.  We’ve been baking it in olive oil and sea salt at least once a week, as per Erin’s fabulous recipe. And I’ve just now harvested the last of the root veggies, in early April. img_0242

Sip my wine, glance outside.  Ryan is sitting on the top step with a towel on his shoulder, petting Assata.  The yard is dark now, but the porchlight is on, and shining on a bush covered with soft pink flowers.

A few hours ago, I sat in this same chair, counting tip money and writing checks to pay bills.  We talked about money, the status of our savings for the wedding and our trip to India this summer, worried about debt and student loans, rehashed the same old numbers over and over, discussed second jobs.   We were quiet for a while, and then decided to set out for the bare bones, beginning-o-month grocery shop at our Co-Op.  Surveyed the empty jars, grabbed our cloth bags, and set out for the bulk section of the West Seattle PCC.

We’ve both bought bulk for years, but its only in the past year or so that we’ve begun to develop our bulk shopping/cooking skills.  I used to buy too much of this, or that, just to see it sitting in a clear jar on my kitchen shelf.  Decorative bulk, invariably tossed out 9 months later.  Now we know exactly what we need.  Once we get to the bulk aisle, we spread out.

I headed for the big bins, to shovel out polenta (for delicious grits!), oats (for my morning oatmeal with soymilk and succanat–a delicious, less-refined sugar), red lentils, green lentils, and nutritional yeast (a delicious, killer source of B-12 for vegetarians/vegans, tastes a lot like cheese. we put it on EVERYTHING).  Ryan took charge in the spice section, pulling down the jars and shoveling herbs and spices into tiny plastic bags.  Bulk spice-buying is deeply satisfying.  I think it appeals to my montessori upbringing— the tiny silver scoop, the numbered jars, the careful packaging (and the other end of the process: emptying the tiny bags into our reused spice jars back home, giddy when i’ve bought just enough to fill them.  Excess gets rolled back into the bags and stored in a tiny cedar basket made by my mother).    I cruise the fruit aisle, and pick out cheap organic fruit… 4 nectarines, 3 pears, a grapfruit.  Ryan meets up with me, having gathered the ingredients for his dahl: tomatoes, cilantro, and naan bread for dipping.  We check out, and congratulate ourselves as each bulk item appears on the screen, cheaper than we expected every damn time.  1 pound grits— $ 1.59.   garlic powder—$1.51.  ground ginger, $1.72.   coriander—.33.

img_0220

Leaving the store, we are giddy.  We have enough spices and grains to last us thru the month, and then some, for 30 dollars less than I’d allocated out of today’s tips.  At home, Ryan starts the dahl, and exquisite scents mingle and blend and swirl thru the kitchen on the draft from the open back door.   I pile the grapefruit, tangerines, pears,  ginger root and garlic into the hanging basket by the window, empty the bulk things into jars… tiny grains whisper across one another and land atop one another sounding like a light rain.

Finish my wine. Ryan dishes up dahl and brown rice, and surprises me with a candlelit picnic table in the dark backyard. wrap in a sweater and put on boots, and sit across from him, savoring each delicious bite in the quiet April dark.

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Filed under Assata, Food, Garden, waitressing, wendell berry, winter garden

Winter blooms

As we were gathering our things to head home the day after Thanksgiving, my mother handed us a small ceramic pot with a narrow green shoot.
Paperwhites, she said,
they’re lovely when they bloom.

She’s always started winter bulbs, as long as I can remember… sitting on the sunniest windowsill of the house, growing with incredible audacity in the warm room during the cold months. We brought it home, and set it on the kitchen windowsill.

Sure enough, it grew visibly, and daily
and this week it burst into bloom…
Daring to blossom in the coldest of Seattle weather,
since it doesn’t know any better,
having lived all its days indoors.

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Filed under Assata, Ordinary, winter garden