Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rain, after dry days

It is a quiet, cool, rainy day in Brooklyn. 

Rain drips from the copper flashing on the terrace edge onto a flat surface with a steady, hollow tap. Rain patters onto the skylights. Into the gravel, over leaves. On the terrace floor, naturalized mint and violets crowd into a thick, wet carpet. The fig is beginning to look like a tree again and small fruits have formed on the new green branches under umbrellas of leaves. 

I should be heading to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to pick up my weekly BK17 sourdough loaf baked by Sarah - this week's bread is lemon and fennel pollen - and also to take some pictures for a story for a new magazine about to launch in South Africa: Platteland

What a wonderful name. Hard to translate, exactly. It means countryside, but it embodies so much more. A way of life. A type of small town, a garden gate, a dog trotting down the street, a lady siting on a stoep, a cool kitchen on a hot day, water running in a furrow, a trail of dust behind a car on a dirt road.

The light is good for photos - but everything will be wet. Does that matter?

My basil it at last looking like basil. I sowed the seeds before we left for South Africa, in late May, and they came up, rather crowded and stunted, a little too hot, but responded well to thinning, feeding and judicious watering.

The strawberries are not well (I mean, who is?). They have spots on their leaves, which indicates a fungal infection and I think that the very wet June was to blame, followed by terrible, humid heat. I keep the pots clean, nipping off bad leaves, and make sure not to overwater, but don't have it in me to repot all of them. They must endure, and we will see what they are made of.

The last of the Gloriosa lilies has opened. But even as the buds fatten and pop, the leaves on the long reaching stems die off one by one. A sort of wilt that begins as a small bruise and then takes over the whole plant, as though each cell in the leaf has ruptured, and the chlorophyll leaked away. At the very end the intelligent hook in the leaf, which lassoes supports as the stem grows, expires and lets go.

August. More to come.


  1. We're getting the first sprinkles of rain since June, and for these parts that's very unusual. I look forward to not having to water tonight. Funny that we're having similar weather on both coasts.

  2. "At the very end the intelligent hook...expires and lets go"

    1. Agree! that line is sheer poetry
      Diane in Denver

  3. Platteland. What a wonderful name indeed.

  4. Marie, I am growing the Gloriosa for the first time this year. Any tips on how to care for it? I think I saw the last flower a couple of weeks ago (I'm in 9b), and I'm not sure if I will need to cut it back once it starts the "expiration." Would appreciate any advice. I purchased it as part of a memorial to my 17 year old dog who passed in March.

  5. Beautiful post. So much to think about and observe in such a small space. I can't wait for your book!

  6. I thought of you many times last week while at the PPA Symposium in Vancouver which ended with a hike through alpine meadows with none other than Dan Hinkley. I want to share the pics and tell the stories, but really wish you had been there to experience it and tell them instead. Your recounts would be so much better. I very much admire your remarkable gifts of language and story telling. Thank you for the inspiration :)


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