Monday, March 2, 2020

Honeysuckle - at home and abroad


It is Monday at No. 9 Constantia, my mother's house in Cape Town. And I have been picking fragrant Japanese honeysuckle flowers, still cool with dew.

It is interesting that they are in bloom again in late summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In New York I usually collect them in very early summer, around June.


It is hard to imagine that this coming Saturday I will be leading a wild walk around New York City's wintery Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, where we will see...the  same honeysuckle! - as invasive there as it is here. But it will certainly not be in bloom. The walk celebrates the end of dark afternoons as Daylight Saving time kicks in, and we will learn to identify lots of indigenous and exotic plants in their winter slumber stage. (There have been two cancellations, so join us if you are free and would like to learn the wild wonders of edible plants, and then taste them in a picnic.)


Today's Cape Town flowers are now macerating (for eight hours) in an unwooded Pinot Noir-Chardonnay blend, to make a late summer, site and season-specific vermouth (based on the recipe in Forage, Harvest, Feast). I have been collecting indigenous herbs for weeks and those infusions are now ready to be blended with this garden exotic. I have also been lucky enough to collect lots of elderflower and elderberry (on the shrubs at the same time!) - and will bring some elderberry syrup back to Brooklyn with me. It will definitely feature in Saturday's walk menu. Thinking hot soup...

I can't wait to see the Frenchman again, and am looking forward to checking in on the indoor citrus collection: There has been scale on the Thai lime (happens every late winter), and the Meyer lemon - repotted just before I left a month ago - is still rather poorly. I will know more once I see it. What I am not looking forward to is mass media panic about the new coronavirus. I am disgusted with news coverage of it in the US. It's like flu. Wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes. I just canceled my New York Times subscription due to their alarmist, and in my view, deeply irresponsible editorial coverage of it.

Moving along, if you'd like to see some other Cape Town adventures, visit my Instagram feed @66squarefeet - that's where the daily posts happen!

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10 comments:

  1. Yes, I am fed up to the back teeth with alarmist journalism.

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    1. It's not "journalism", either. Journalism is objective and responsible. I am truly surprised by what is happening.

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  2. It's not only mass media panic. They are draguing people along. I went food shopping with my mom yesterday, and I've never seen some shelves so empty. No more rice, noodles, flour etc....
    My best friend is a pharmacist. You wouldn't believe the kind of questions she was asked.
    But on the bright side, we have your instagram and your blog to make us dream of sun filled days with locally foraged food. Thank you so much!!!

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    1. Yes, that's what I meant. People are going nuts thanks to reporting that verges on the dangerous. It has caused panic. Gah. (And my pleasure!)

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  3. I have followed you for years and adore you in so many ways. Your attitude regarding the New York Times surprised me. It's like shooting the messenger. Media coverage worldwide is focused on the spread of the virus. I certainly am not stockpiling food or buying masks, but dismissing this as just "the flu" seems extreme. The Spanish flu of 1918 was horrific. Even if you label it flu, it is still dangerous to many people. The public may over react, but I don't blame the NYT for providing information.
    I wish you safe travels and a healthy return.

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    1. The media provide information. What most are failing to provide is the information (in bold) that tens of thousands of people are killed by other flu strains every year. And that is in the United States alone.

      Nothing I have read, and I rely on the W.H.O. for information, indicates that this flu is more serious than any other, aside from the fact that it is new. This is not the Spanish flu, and this is not 1918.

      Coronaviruses have been around for a very long time. This is another one. So why is it extreme of me to describe it as flu?

      What IS dangerous, is panic. Stock markets are tanking, stores are running out food. and sanitizer and water. Why? Because of what people read.

      And, as a loyal follower (thank you!), please be be brave enough to use your real name :-)

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  4. Gretchen NiendorffMarch 3, 2020 at 6:01 PM

    Didn't mean to be anonymous. I'm awkward and technologically inept. I hate that people are overreacting. I read the NYT daily and am not in panic mode. I know this is not 1918. We have extraordinary treatments and far more knowledge. To me the biggest threat is the potential number of cases that could overwhelm our health care systems not to mention the systems in poorer countries. Caring doctors and nurses and amazing medical procedures can only go so far if everyone is sick at once. I hope it is all contained or runs its course soon.

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    1. Thank you, Gretchen! I should have clarified that what pushed me over the edge in terms of the NYTimes was that they took an editorial stance a few days ago which baffled me. xx

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    2. First, travel safely! It will be nice to have you back in this hemisphere again. Then, you are so right about this panic over a new flu. We were planning a trip to Florida in late March, but now my hubby is concerned about the "risk of flying" so we are cancelling. He is in the cohort that is most affected (by dying!) so am cutting him some slack. But really...? (Thanks for letting me vent.)

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    3. Thank you, Win. Safe and sound.

      I think it makes sense to limit mass transit for someone who is at-risk. I also think that one can take precautions that will limit potential exposure to any germs - being aware of touching surfaces, then face, taking hand sanitizer along. Flu is always around, and flu is always a risk.

      Sorry about your trip!

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