Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A walk as winter arrives

On Sunday, we walked to Red Hook as the first cold air of winter blew in.

These beautiful lambs quarters were growing in a tree pit on a quayside street where litter rolled in the icy breeze.  They are the result of the very mild start to winter, with record highs recorded, but also of the late rain we received in late November and December. Last summer, when downpours should have been tropical, was very dry, and shrubs and perennials in gardens and woods drooped. Then came the rain, and we had a small, strange spring in autumn, and then in winter.

Queen Anne's lace, or wild carrot. In January.

We found a friendly street cat, who was not a crook, and who rolled and rolled in greeting. He had food and shelter. He must be colder, now - yesterday it dropped to 15'F/-8'C and the wind was bitter.

The Queen Mary was in town. 

We had planned to picnic on a pier over the water, above, but the wind blew us right back, shivering, and we inched closer to Fairway's bulk and the windbreak it offered.

From our concrete perch we watched the traffic.

And wolfed our brioche and crisp bacon sandwiches, fishing vegetables from their vinaigrette with our fingers.

And then we walked home, fast. Passing this cherry tree in bloom on Van Brunt Street. Looking at the flowers closely I think it is Prunus subhirtella, which tends to bloom in autumn and spring, so it's not as satisfyingly freaky as it looks.

It froze hard in the last two nights. The soil in the garden looks like chronically unmoisturized skin - humped and pale and rough, and the lush arugula, mustard and fava beans are gorgeous no more. The birdbath is frozen and in the morning I pour boiling water into - the birds come at once, as it steams, and so do the squirrels.

So winter is here, at last.

Despite that cherry tree.


  1. Yay for winter - at last. And it's so have lace flowers in January in New York and I have lace flowers in Constantia in January. But I also have a bright green and very pretty chameleon. I'm hoping that I will find more.

    1. That is weird. The lace flowers, I mean. But the chameleon!!! That is wonderful. Where did you find it?

  2. I'm not entirely certain how I first came across your blog some time in 2015. Once that happened, I bought your book, and will try a few of the recipes, soon. I'm enamored of your writing style and look forward to reading your posts. Today's, for example, informed me about Lamb's Quarters, the "weeds" I've heretofore pulled from my garden but will no longer now that I'm better informed.

    1. Thank you, Clara! If you look in the June chapter of my book you will find a lambs quarter tart, p.111 (and at this time of year you can make it using Swiss chard). I prefer lambs quarters to spinach, and they are very nutritious, as well.

  3. I have a quince bush that is blooming like spring in my back yard. I wonder if it will do it at the appropriate time or if this is it?
    By the way, your short rib recipe is awesome. I had always slow cooked them but we loved them marinated on the grill. Thanks!

  4. Winter has hit us up in the mountains at last. Temps were below zero two nights ago, and in the single digits last night. My garden has finally gone to rest for the season!

  5. Queen Anne's lace -- edible? or is 'carrot' in 'wild carrot' a caprice?

    Happy New Year to you and Vince from me and the crew, most especially from Himself (who has developed a touch of arthritis but is feeling much better after seeing the vet and getting a shot).


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