Monday, August 10, 2020

Not drowning, but waving


Our evening supper table on the terrace, with zinnias from the farmer's market. 

My Saturday visits to the market are a highlight of my week. The produce is glorious and delicious, and it all grows within a few hours' reach of the city. Organized by the not-for-profit Grow NYC, entry to the market is controlled strictly to avoid crowding, and every farm stand has fresh chalk marks and boxes drawn on the ground where customers must stand to wait their turn. Marketers choose your produce while you point - and everyone is masked and gloved. It is hot work. The one farm that now allows you to choose your own produce wipes down every basket handle and requires you to hand sanitize from a giant dispenser before you pick one up. 

If the whole country was being run this way we'd be in good shape.

When I focus on these good things (fennel and balloon plant - native to southern Africa - above) it's easy to forget what we have missed, this year. A trip to the south of France (our tickets were refunded, at last). Chanterelle hunts (the state park that is home to "our" patch is closed). And late this month I would have traveled to Vermont to be the late summer Culinary Artist in Residence (isn't that a wonderful title?) at the Marble House Project. A kitchen to play in, and complete freedom to forage the land and choose from their kitchen garden anything I liked, to channel the seasons through food, to chart and document and compile. We would have ended with a wild-inspired forage-to-table community dinner. The residency will carry over to next year, but, as we are all learning, the more we know the less we know. Next year may as well be in another galaxy.

Finding - and recognizing - the good things under our noses remains inspiring, and I may be fortunate, that way. Lockdown inflicts boredom on some people but it's not something I have ever suffered from. Sometimes adventure lives in a windowbox. Or in a collection of summer vegetables from a farmer who grows them upstate. 

Or in a ripe peach.

Sometimes it's the new fruit on the fingerlime. Or a freshly-dug piece of galangal rhizome in a green curry.

So while I have space to grow plants, I still have the opportunity to experiment, to observe, to learn, to play, to create. Every meal is an evolving piece of the season, and a source of pleasure. Every changing month brings new things to fruit, to seed, to flower. It is all noted, edited, filed, and this tiny garden (and my local rambles) continue to fuel both work and imagination. 

In that sense, as my dad would say, we lead a privileged life. And I am thankful for it. 

(But I really would like to go and find some chanterelles!)



  1. This post is amazing because we learn the secret for being a content gardener no matter the size of your plot. You always exude joy in gardening, foraging, pickling, fermenting. I remember your other 2 gardens and I always felt uplifted after reading about a simple plant via your perspective, you seem to elevate the joy of gardening no matter if the plant is a noble citrus, lily , etc. Your foraging makes weeds, pinecones, berries into a delectable dinners/lunches. Amazing lady!!!!

  2. Windowsill Meyer lemon marmalade is in process as I write. Bell peppers from the hoop house are sliced and tucked away in the freezer. Garlic are drying in the woodshed. Tomatoes are piled on the kitchen counter.
    If I wrote a list of things we are missing it would make me sob.
    In the big scheme of things, though, we do live a privileged life, and I try to stay in the present moment. To look beyond that is daunting.
    So glad you and your abundant goodwill are here to visit on the web.

  3. So much to comment on:
    don't you love the afrikaans name for zinnias? Jakob Regop
    is that asclepias?
    and I realise that what I have always thought of as finger limes are actually Buddha's hands - C.medica. Here I go down another thread to see ahy medica!

    1. I'm not unknown, I'm Rosemary!

    2. Hello, Known Rosemary :-)

      That's a wonderful name for zinnias. And you'd think it's Asclepias but (for now) it's Gomphocarpus...

      Hands and fingers, always problematic.

  4. You have a similar view of Lockdown as me. I have found virtually nothing hard, except perhaps the wearing of a mask in a hot shop, I have loved the chance to slow life down and have others for once do it with me. Finding the beauty in the day to day things around us, the tasks we do and in nature is soul calming.

    1. I am also very tired of masks. And want to bark at the maskless ones. Like, actually bark.

  5. I wish I had your enthusiasm. We've been isolating due to various health conditions and I'm beginning to feel trapped. I need to rediscover my love of gardening and your posts always help.

    1. I am very sorry about the health conditions...that must be difficult.

      I don't think of myself as enthusiastic - rather the opposite. But I am lucky that the things that interest me deeply can be found very close to home.

      What things do you miss most, Kath?


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