Archive for August, 2015

The daily harvest

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I’ve written before about how something as simple as tending to a row of peas can calm frenzied days, and how flowers from the garden can lighten even the saddest days. My faith in garden therapy continues to grow. It’s been a spring and summer of gardening in five or ten minute stints throughout the day as I navigate the joys and challenges of being a new mommy.

Our little guy has his own chair outside on the deck and many mornings we enjoy our breakfast or lunch outside and I do the watering in between bites, or pick a strawberry or two for us to eat. Once in a while a weed gets pulled, but only in the food growing areas. The rest of them have free reign of the yard, I’m afraid (motherhood is doing wonders for curing my perfectionist tendencies).

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Best of all is going out, usually late afternoon, to harvest something good for dinner. We’ve had a steady crop of greens that I’ve been using in salad and pasta – rainbow chard, spinach, arugula, bok choy and more – since late spring. Cucumbers have been a success as well – from one little plant I’ve harvested at least a dozen full-sized cukes. Tomatoes are also collecting in a basket I keep on the windowsill. I’ve been picking them a bit green to encourage others on the vine to ripen up. The tomatoes I grew this year shot up sky-high, so it is a race to get the fruit before the plants topple over from the weight.

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We have plums, plums, and more plums. I have made six beautiful plum cakes over the past couple of weeks, and I might still make one or two more. The plums are wonderful for eating fresh as well. No one is enjoying them more than our 7-month old. Good luck eating one if he is in arms-length of you: he’ll reach over, grab it away and hoover it down with the most intense passion and focus. All that is left a minute later is a sticky, drippy, gooey mess of plum juice and slobber all over everyone and everything. Motherhood also cures you of caring about whether your house or shirt or arm is clean: I am in love with this kind of mess.

Apples, sadly are a bust this year, for reasons unknown. Last year’s harvest was incredible, so I will have to figure out what we did wrong so the pie-making can recommence next season. Tent caterpillars might be to blame. We found a pile of them nesting in the tree in the late spring, so I wonder if they ate all the blossoms. Last year’s apple sauce is still here, though, and almost as popular as the plums with our little guy.

Fresh herbs – chives, dill, sage, basil, thyme, and oregano – are all thriving in pots and in the garden. The ambitious me wants to dry mint leaves, lemon balm, lavender, and rose petals for tea. We’ll see if that happens this year, but for now I am reminding myself to brew up a pot of what’s growing fresh in the garden.

There will be time enough for tea bags all winter, and for weeding maybe some day. For now I will enjoy my five minutes here and there in the garden by picking something good to eat.

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August 7, 2015 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

Where I was

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Five years ago, on August 1: in Porto, standing on a bridge, watching a seagull drift. I was marveling at the beautiful melancholy of a moody, cloudy morning, and at the same time feeling the most intense sadness for seemingly no reason at all.

I didn’t know yet. And yet I did.

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Those of you who know me well know that this is the hardest time of year for me and my family. It has been five years since my brother died and the fact that he is gone seems more unbelievable than ever. Anyone who has lost someone they love must know this feeling, and this question: how is it even possible? How can someone that was so real, so vital, so essential, just be gone?

There is no answer to that question, no solution to that feeling. There is only sorrow and regret, sadness at what can never be, and holding close to the ones you have left. For everyone who has offered comfort this week, and in all the weeks before: thank you. It helps more than I can say.

I will never know for sure, but in my heart I believe this is where I was, and where he was, when he passed. What I felt was so strong: it had to be real.

I hope he was there, too, just for a minute or two. Maybe he was that seagull flying up high, taking in the view as he journeyed to the next place.

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August 5, 2015 at 12:57 pm 2 comments


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