Tag Archive | food

This Week in the Garden

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This week in the garden has been an antidote. The tightness and pounding in my chest belies the calm I bring to each day hearing this mad rhetoric of nuclear threats in the news. Apparently the Korean War never actually ended; our country once had an opportunity to negotiate the conclusion of that conflict, along with some other diplomatic options, to deescalate rather than fan the flames of this shitgibbon standoff.

My uncle, who just turned 92 and retired from the army a 2-star general, was a strong Trump supporter. “He’s a loose cannon,” John said, “But it’s all campaign rhetoric. He’ll settle down and tow the line when he’s elected.” Well, Uncle John, I wish we could talk again. I’d love to hear your take on that position now. He assured me in that conversation that failsafes exist between the President and “pushing the button.” That’s not what the talking heads on media are saying. They are saying that military officials are obliged to follow the orders of their commander-in-chief.

John said the same thing when I asked him, “What would you not do if ordered to? I mean, what would it take to make a conscientious Army officer, a good Christian, a person with integrity, refuse to follow an order?”

“It would never happen,” he said. “An officer will quit before he’ll refuse to carry out an order.” Leaving in his (or her) place someone who presumably, eventually, would  carry out the order, no matter how heinous. Like initiating nuclear war with North Korea. I also asked him about the possibility of martial law, or a military coup. He brushed me off. “Never happen,” he said. Well, this is a career Army officer who served for decades after his retirement as a military consultant. For my peace of mind I had to trust him.

So now there are these pansy white guys in Washington who’ve never seen war first-hand, ignoring all the urgent counsel from men (and women) who have been to war, the officers and retired officers of our military branches urging them to hold their horses, to not be rash, to not be stupid.

Where people lose track of reality is when they call military trainings “war games.” They’re not games. This diluting of the meanings of words (and the word WAS God), this diluting of raw content into an idea of it saps comprehension.

Have you ever seen a wild animal attack? An alligator, for example? A badger? Until you have, you can’t comprehend the instantaneity of it, nor the savagery. Or a raging wildfire exploding trees? I imagine war is like that. Unless you’ve seen its horrors yourself, you can’t comprehend the magnitude of it, or its unpredictability: how far and fast it can spread, and in what unforeseen directions.

Well, enough about that. It has been an exquisite journey on this planet. Through it all I’ve worshiped only one thing, Life itself, in all its glorious diversity. I live where there are lions; hummingbirds and bees, dogs and cats, ravens, fawns, flowers, rain, clouds and trees bring to my day what joy it contains. If it all ends tomorrow in nuclear annihilation, it’s been a brilliant ride. My heart breaks with gratitude.

This week in the garden is like every other week, in some ways; and like no other week, no other moment, in other ways.

This Week in Food Alone:

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The first BLT of the season, with the first Stupice tomatoes ripening the last week in July, with Bad Dog lettuce and the best ethicarian bacon available in that necessary moment. Plenty of mayonnaise, yay mayonnaise! On light bread, Rudi’s organic oat. Some things you can only compromise so far. Remind me to plant at least one Stupice plant next summer; they give early and tasty.

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Glacé garni, with lemon twist and two dried Marciano cherries, one great ice cube in a Manhattan.

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The Colonel’s prized Vichyssoise recipe, which I sleuthed and found in his Fanny Farmer Boston Cookbook. He was so proud of this soup. I used homegrown leeks, a hefty Farmers’ Market Yukon gold potato, and extremely local cream.

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Stuffed Costata Romanesco squash, yum. They doubled in size overnight. I’m trying to catch them in the act.

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Organic white peaches from the Crawford Farmers’ Market, drenched in fresh whole milk from the cows next door, with a sprinkle of organic brown sugar-cinnamon.

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Collecting tomatoes for two weeks, finally enough San Marzano and Stupice ripe to make sauce. Slow-cooked strained tomatoes, with onions in olive oil, plus a splash of red wine. Such gratification to use tomatoes, peppers, carrots, garlic, herbs from my own garden…

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Steaming from the oven sourdough from the starter Ruth gave me last winter, still going strong, a staple now in my weekly meal plan, finally getting the hang of the perfect loaf.

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Mary’s ultimate ginger cookie recipe with a substitution and an omission, almost Lebkuchen in flavor, a grounding sweet even in summer.

These quotidian moments:

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Lola came to like dogs a little bit more after meeting Stellar, Rocky, and Raven. But especially Rocky. And Stellar.

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What is this? I don’t remember seeing this bright red growth in the pinyon tips, and I’ve seen it in a couple of different woods up here on the mesa.

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Black Canyon morning.

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Finding solace, finding beauty everywhere I can. This week in sunflowers, this week in hummingbirds, this week in shooting stars.

Love and Heartache

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Just a couple more jars of apricot jam left from last summer… savoring every single morsel since the harvest looks bleak this year. Neighbor Fred taught me how to tell if the fruit has frozen, and it sure looks like I won’t have many, if any, apricots this year. 

But the good news is, so far, as the radio DJ said a couple of weeks ago, Looks like we’ll have fruit this year, folks. Our valley’s abundant fruit crops, cherries peaches pears apples nectarines, apparently survive, a boon to all the fruit farmers, thus far. Who knows what the next day will bring? We’ll know more later!

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Keeping up with the tulips: The gorgeous red tulips I thought were toast after the first spring snow rebounded dramatically and lasted another week or two.

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It’s been warm sun interspersed with rain, hail and snow the past few weeks, and the four varieties of naturalizing tulips in the south border keep going strong, opening sequentially, including Tulipa tarda, Tulipa batalinii, Tulipa linifolia above, and one I can’t decipher on my map.

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I found the old map from when I first planted this border years ago, naming all the varieties of tulip, iris, grape hyacinth, and groundcovers. Too bad I abbreviated some, and can’t read others. Special jonquils and red species tulips, above; More tulips, and Biko the leopard tortoise keeping down weeds, below.

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And talk about tulips! The tulips at Deb’s house on Easter were glorious.

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The tattooed girl brought violet syrup and fresh violet blossoms for our Easter Dinner cocktail, violet martinis, and an hors d’oeuvre featuring the complicated green endive that she grew, below.

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A true friend comprehends the importance of an uncontaminated cheese knife.

The flowering trees are almost done, and may or may not produce fruit. Blossoms on both apples look dingy today after three inches of snow last night and a low of 28. Whatever survived that could drop tomorrow if it reaches the predicted low of 21. All spring it has been like this. The trees started weeks earlier than usual, so we all knew it was an iffy season. I’ve been making the most of their beauty, hanging out with each tree as it began to bloom, following it through its fullness ~ full of blossoms, full of bees ~ and into its flower-fading leafing out.

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The wild plum buzzed with clouds of bees punctuated by a couple of red admiral butterflies alighting here and there, now and then, in the manner of butterflies. The plum tree grew from the root stock of the almond, a huge sucker that came up in the first or second spring, too vital to destroy. I dug it up, transplanted it, watered it. It thrives. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t start something wonderful from root stock.

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Mourning Cloaks also migrated through for a few days.

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Bee flies have been buzzing the trees and especially the Nepeta (catmint), as have bumblebees.

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I don’t profess to know flies, but these cute ones were all over the wild plum, too, everybody doing their spring thing.

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This female sweat bee fought off swarms of males while mating with one on the wild plum.

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The peach tree flowered next, tiny pink blossoms that didn’t attract too many bees…

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… but there were some!

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Next came the crabapple, growing more dazzling every day.

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Just not as many bees as I expected on the crabapple, though there were some sweat bees, honeybees, a few bumblebees, and some digger bees like this Centris. Note the distinctive giant eyes of this genus.

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The heirloom apple just a few days ago, as this round of storms began to materialize.

Meanwhile in the woods this month, wallflowers and paintbrush, cactus and mustards, Astragalus and TownsendiaPhasaria and more all seemed to bloom earlier than usual.

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Indian paintbrush blossomed a couple of weeks early, and hummingbirds arrived shortly after. But not very many…

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Puccoon is like that old friend that you see once a year if you’re lucky, for just a few days over spring break, and you’re so delighted and you pick up right where you left off laughing and talking and catching up; only when you see puccoon, you’re just happy and you both laugh and there’s no need for conversation.

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We haven’t spent much time on the canyon rim this spring, once we figured out that the growing nest in the cottonwood just off from the bench belonged to a skittish pair of redtail hawks. Here she’s sitting, but not setting. Once her eggs were laid she hasn’t spooked off the nest; she lies flat on top, just the round of her head and her beak giving away her presence as she incubates her precious eggs. Philip says they haven’t seen near the usual number of redtails on their side of the valley, but there’s been a pair of harriers over the fields.

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Six kinds of carrots, last year’s seeds, sowed early. Maybe they’ll make it, maybe not. More seeds on order just in case, or for a second crop.

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These people I live among, we celebrate tulips, bee trees, planting seeds, and redtail hawks, the rites of spring. We celebrate the wild life, the fruits and fields and feasts of our valleys, the stars in the sky. We honor the land and cherish our relationships with it. What else can we do?

We write our Representatives, march with millions, endeavor to make change. It’s an uphill battle, that’s for sure, against greed and corruption, against entropy. It’s a sense not just of personal mortality, but of planetary mortality, the sweetness to this spring.

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While friends march in cities for the Peoples Climate March, I stay home and repair myself. Though I made a sign, my back has been too tender to take to the streets.

It’s been a brutal month for a sensitive person. It’s so hard to keep up with the dreadful actions coming from the government, the crimes against nature and humanity. The pronouncements, executive orders, earth-killing life-stealing human-rights-smashing bills and deregulations, the assault on American public lands that belong to us the people and not to multi-national corporations bent on extraction. Not just once or twice a week, but a pile of them every single day, day after day. Mutterings of war, deep worries for the future. It’s sickening, is what it is, more and more often literally.

I worry far less now for my own life than I do for the lives of all the other living things I share this place with: first of course the bees, honeys and bumbles, diggers and long-horned and sweat; also the trees and flowers and shrubs, the deer and bears, and the mountain lions here; and lions far away, all the magnificent wild felines of the world: snow leopard, clouded leopard, the jaguar sentenced to be fenced out of expanding her range northward as she needs to with climate change… Any single thought leads in a dozen different desperate directions.

Every living creature on the planet is at risk with this Kleptocracy, in the hands of a madman dedicated to further eroding the planet herself and the lives of all beings. It’s encouraging today to see thousands of people on the streets, and listen to legislators and activists around the country. Fighting the sense of overwhelm, I write letters, make calls, support friends; cherishing the life and beauty around me, I prune trees, plant seeds, pull weeds, and let my love for Nature grow along with my heartache. What else can I do?

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Happy Harvesting

All the frog activity this spring has resulted in a delightful crop of baby leopard frogs hopping all about the pond for the past month.

All the frog activity this spring has resulted in a delightful crop of baby leopard frogs hopping all about the pond for the past month.

A whirlwind of work, company, and gardening has blown away the last half of summer; a delirium of fresh food has filled the days and evenings. Every day for the past month I’ve happily harvested something from the garden, filling bellies and freezers.

I've gotten into a nice, nurturing routine with the tomatoes, picking a few every morning, then making a sauce once a week or so with the Novas and Costoluto Genovese, enough to eat some and freeze some. And enjoying the cherry-pears and various slicers in scrambletts, sandwiches, and salads.

I’ve gotten into a nice, nurturing routine with the tomatoes, picking a few every morning, then making a sauce once a week or so with the Novas and Costoluto Genovese, enough to eat some and freeze some. And enjoying the cherry-pears and various slicers in scrambletts, sandwiches, and salads.

Oh, and pizza.

Oh, and pizza.

Also frittatas, with Pamela eggs, Stout bacon, and everything else from the garden.

Also frittatas, with Pamela eggs, Stout bacon, and everything else from the garden.

The first tomato sandwich, with bread and butter refrigerator pickles I made with cukes from a neighbor's garden.

The first tomato sandwich, with bread and butter refrigerator pickles I made with cukes from a neighbor’s garden.

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Tomato avocado open-faced sandwich on sun-dried tomato/spinach bread from the Flying Fork Bakery. Yum.

Tomato avocado open-faced sandwich on sun-dried tomato/spinach bread from the Flying Fork Bakery. Yum.

Potatoes went in late and spontaneously this spring, in a clayey bed; I just cut up some organic grocery store potatoes that were past their prime and stuck them in the ground. Despite all the spring rain compacting the soil, and me never seeing the tragic-looking plants flower, the Potato's drive to reproduce gave me a decent little harvest.

Potatoes went in late and spontaneously this spring, in a clayey bed; I just cut up some organic grocery store potatoes that were past their prime and stuck them in the ground. Despite all the spring rain compacting the soil, and me never seeing the tragic-looking plants flower, the Potato’s drive to reproduce gave me a decent little harvest.

Purple velour and golden filet beans planted together in the raised bed gave up beans of both colors for months, providing lots of delicious marinated snacks and several bags for freezing.

Purple velour and golden filet beans planted together in the raised bed gave up beans of both colors for months, providing lots of delicious marinated snacks and several bags for freezing.

One weird looking tomato..

One weird looking tomato..

Bad Dogs' salad with greens and flowers from their garden...

Bad Dogs’ salad with greens and flowers from their garden…

... and a treat from their huge Yukon gold harvest, cheesy goodness.

… and a treat from their huge Yukon gold harvest, cheesy goodness.

Garden delights served with planked salmon...

Garden delights served with planked salmon…

... for just another spectacular summer family dinner.

… for just another spectacular summer family dinner.

After losing so many little melons I was thrilled a few weeks ago to spot this little Tigger melon, so I used some old lathe to protect it!

After losing so many little melons I was thrilled a few weeks ago to spot this little Tigger melon, so I used some old lathe to protect it!

The entire carrot harvest for the year, not one of them more than three inches long. This bed needs serious soil amending before next spring. Just as I suspected, the clay soil compacted so hard that they simply couldn't grow, so...

The entire carrot harvest for the year, not one of them more than three inches long. This bed needs serious soil amending before next spring. Just as I suspected, the clay soil compacted so hard that they simply couldn’t grow, so…

... except for the handful we snacked on, the whole harvest fit into one half-pint jar pickled. Also pickled the whole harvest of Mexican sour gherkins...

… except for the handful we snacked on, the whole harvest fit into one half-pint jar pickled. Also pickled the whole harvest of Mexican sour gherkins…

... for a great martini garnish!

… for a great martini garnish!

The best surprises of the week, a hidden watermelon, Patio Baby variety, hanging from the potted plant...

The best surprises of the week, a hidden watermelon, Patio Baby variety, hanging from the potted plant…

... and an undiscovered Alvaro melon off the edge of the raised bed. Fingers crossed these get to ripen before the rodents get them.

… and an undiscovered Alvaro melon off the edge of the raised bed. Fingers crossed these get to ripen before the rodents get them.

Monsoonal flow continued through August and into early September; only just now are we getting a stretch of warm summer days without rain.

Monsoonal flow continued through August and into early September; only just now are we getting a stretch of warm summer days without rain.

 

 

Practical Math

The river runs full and red yesterday through Paonia.

The river runs full and red yesterday through Paonia. 

Welcoming snowmelt.

Welcoming snowmelt, roaring down to fill reservoirs and bigger rivers.

Going with the flow.

Going with the flow.

More found time this morning. A phrase I’ve recently become quite fond of. All week I’ve been finding time, or being given found time, which is more accurate I think. A gift from the universe in this peculiar spring; three appointments were canceled last week, giving me hours more time for my devotions. Time added to my days.

This morning, one neighbor planned to come over at ten and pick up some boxes for a yard sale and another was to pick me up at eleven to drive over and look at my fields across the canyon, make plans for him to harrow or mark or do whatever spring maintenance is needed in order for hay to grow bountifully. We awoke a little after eight, when Rocky wanted out; he was prescient. Half an hour later when I had to get up, the rain was starting and the big dogs wouldn’t leave the door. I fed the cat and went back to bed for the half hour until I could give him his shot.

Our new normal. Each morning Brat Farrar gets homemade, raw food, weighed in grams; half an hour later I give him an insulin shot. Half an hour longer, more or less, and I take away any food he didn’t eat, weigh it, do the math, and record how much he ate. We are doing science. The goal of the calculations, and weekly blood draws to measure sugar, is to bring the kitty back into balance. Beautiful Brat Farrar, my special special cat. Always so fragile and timid.

My rancher neighbor called before I was up for real as rain poured down outside in sideways sheets. “I think we should go over and look at those fields now, don’tcha think?” My first belly-laugh of the day. We postponed it til tomorrow. I postponed the yard-sale neighbor as well and settled in for a day of quiet introspection.

Change is afoot in the neighborhood, as the road crew carves a new curve before paving the  county road.

Change is afoot in the neighborhood, as the road crew carves a new curve before paving the county road.

Forsythia fills the window where I park at Small Potatoes Farm to pick up the week's bread from the brick oven bakery.

Forsythia fills the window where I park at Small Potatoes Farm to pick up the week’s bread from the brick oven bakery.

Snow blew down in spirals, an inch in an hour, fat wet giant flakes like daisies spinning from above. After a cup of coffee and a melt-in-your-mouth, gluten-free, ginger-pecan scone from the Brick Oven Bakery, I turned my attention to my neglected kitchen.

Tulips in snow, this fleeting bittersweet beauty. A friend in sunny Florida fights for her life.

Tulips in snow, this fleeting bittersweet beauty. A friend in sunny Florida fights for her life.

This afternoon, I continue cleaning the deepest recesses of the house; I finally accomplished the pantry last week, the mudroom yesterday, and today, that hell-hole corner cupboard left of the sink. With small cardboard boxes salvaged from the recycle pile stacked yesterday, and colorful duct tape, I made small bins for daily cleaners, rarely used cleaners, oils and waxes, dusting all the containers and washing down the cupboard boards before implementing the new organization. I feel desperate to reduce clutter and mess in my life. I believe this ties in with my overall health as it gradually improves. On every level, bringing my life into balance in this season of upheaval.

A candle for Karla.

A candle for Karla.

Before the cleaning frenzy began, I turned on the Found Music and lit candles in loving ritual for friends and family gone, going, or in duress. I’ve spent the day in wholesome cleansing and reflection. For the first time in months I have the energy to tackle a winter-dirty house full of seasons of clutter. Motivated by the music library serendipitously shared by a friend, tunes and artists that I mostly don’t know but songs which suit my endeavor, I move through the day lightly despite the heavy weather.

Through snowy almond blossoms...

Through snowy almond blossoms…

... the apricot is also covered in snow. I watch it all day through the window as snow melts and blossoms show pink, then watch it get covered again. Each blooming tree a singular gift of changing beauty.

… the apricot is also covered. I watch it all day through the window as snow melts and blossoms show pink, then watch it get covered again. Each blooming tree a singular gift of changing beauty.

Snow tapered off in the afternoon. During a break we got out to run around the yard and fill the bird feeders (the dogs the one, and I the other), check the rain gauge, feed a friend’s cat. A cacophony of finches in the feeder trees. How many is that? Practical math: If you add .40 inches of warm water to the slush in the rain gauge and swish it around til it’s all liquid, then pour it back into the measuring tube and have .68 inches of water, what is the water content of the snow so far today?

This evening white rain pelts down again, a hybrid snow and rain that isn’t quite sleet and definitely not hail. Or maybe tiny, tiny hail. I light a fire in the woodstove and prepare a meal, leftover salmon mixed into salad with fresh chives and basil from pots in the sunroom, on a bed of chopped baby spinach and arugula with a ginger/sherry vinaigrette. On the side, one half a Brick Oven garlic bagel toasted, with butter, cream cheese, and thinly sliced farm-fresh red onion. Oh the way we eat around here.

Tonight I’ll decant the kefir I made from kefir grains that Touffic gave me and start a new batch with the organic milk in the fridge. A new way to get probiotics, from an heirloom strain passed on through community like sourdough starter. Bread and yogurt will be the next new staples on my homemade journey.

“You look great,” said Deb when she came to pick up Rocky around three. “What have you been doing?”

Adding gratitude, finding time, subtracting dirt, losing burdens, measuring snow. Practical math. “Rejuvenating,” I said. “Choosing Life.”

Mary holds a margarita.

Mary holds a margarita.

Every day takes learnin’ all over again how to fuckin’ live. ~ Calamity Jane

Last Hands of Last Year

Ellie making gravy

Ellie making gravy

Michael carving turkey

Michael carving turkey

Mary pouring wine

Mary pouring wine

This last series of hands from last year only make me want to keep collecting hands. These first three are from Thanksgiving dinner at my house. There are not a lot of restaurants where we live, just a handful, and most are so far away that we usually prefer to share meals at one house or another. There are many excellent cooks in my circle of friends, and we live in the boonies. One or two nights a week some or many of us come together to break bread; usually everybody brings a dish to share, sometimes one person prepares the whole meal or the bulk of it. And boy do we eat well!

Deb rolling cookie dough

Deb rolling cookie dough

Joli reaches for candy

Joli reaches for candy

Mary opening a homemade vanilla creme sandwich cookie

Mary opening a homemade vanilla creme sandwich cookie

Dawn dunks a cookie

Dawn dunks a cookie

Jim makes pizza

Jim makes pizza

JT serves soup

JT serves soup

Joli serves linzer torte

Joli serves linzer torte

Cynthia carves the roast

Cynthia carves the roast

John wears a napkin ring

John wears a napkin ring

Deb dances Rocky

Deb dances Rocky

Connie grates nutmeg onto homemade Brandy Alexander

Connie grates nutmeg onto homemade Brandy Alexander

Todd holds Rocky

Todd holds Rocky

Cynthia slices homemade sourdough

Cynthia slices homemade sourdough

Chris serves Chicken Marbella

Chris serves Chicken Marbella

Michael plays with his gag gift

Michael plays with his gag gift

Todd contemplates Rummy Kub

Todd contemplates Rummy Kub

Harvest Festival

The first snow down to our elevation arrived overnight Thursday, a good two inches.

The first snow down to our elevation arrived overnight Thursday, a good two inches.

I spent most of the week, and especially Wednesday and Thursday, bringing in everything from the garden: the last tomatoes (red and green), peppers, squash, rose hips, legal marijuana, and all the house plants from the patio. Usually it’s not until the third week in October that the temperatures drop into the 20’s, but Friday morning’s low was 29, and this morning’s 25. Overnight Thursday my sunroom turned into a narrow hallway, filled with a dozen cacti, half a dozen geraniums and as many jades, two lime trees, potted basil, peppers, rosemary, and chives, and a bunch of ornamentals. But before the snow I took plenty of pictures.

Agastache, hummingbird mint, a reliable late-season hummingbird feeder, remains in bloom long after I've taken down the feeders; late migrants passing through find plenty of sustenance here, and the sphinx moths love it.

Agastache, hummingbird mint, a reliable late-season hummingbird feeder, remains in bloom long after I’ve taken down the feeders; late migrants passing through find plenty of sustenance here, and the sphinx moths love it.

First harvest of fall carrots, a rainbow mix.

First harvest of fall carrots, a rainbow mix.

The sum total of my Yukon Gold crop; ten plants each produced only a couple of potatoes.

The sum total of my Yukon Gold crop; ten plants each produced only a couple of potatoes.

One row over, these Sangre de Cristo potatoes produced five or six from each of the two plants I've harvested so far. These all came out of the ground still attached at the roots. The other eight plants are mulched under a foot of loose straw for gradual harvest over the next month or so. At least before the ground freezes solid, and who knows when that will be.

One row over, these Sangre de Cristo potatoes produced five or six from each of the two plants I’ve harvested so far. These all came out of the ground still attached at the roots. The other eight plants are mulched under a foot of loose straw for gradual harvest over the next month or so. At least before the ground freezes solid, and who knows when that will be.

Yesterday I brought in eight cups of rose hips off the wild pink rose, with grand plans of making rose hip jelly.

Yesterday I brought in eight cups of rose hips off the wild pink rose, with grand plans of making rose hip jelly.

Out of four cauliflower plants I put in the ground early, three bolted early and produced small, bitter, diffuse heads. But one made a beautiful fruit, and this one I steamed, then chilled and frosted with a spicy avocado spread for a salad called, in the best Indian cookbook ever, Gobhi Salaad.

Out of four cauliflower plants I put in the ground early, three bolted early and produced small, bitter, diffuse heads. But one made a beautiful fruit, and this one I steamed, then chilled and frosted with a spicy avocado spread for a salad called, in the best Indian cookbook ever, Gobhi Salaad.

A rogue daikon radish, one of four that emerged this summer from seeds planted well over a year ago.

A rogue daikon radish, one of four that emerged this summer from seeds planted well over a year ago.

Butternut squash on the vine. After a light freeze to sweeten them up, I harvested two that came from this vine, and one other. Many of these vegetables started out in Ruth's greenhouse, and she generously offered starts around the community.

Butternut squash on the vine. After a light freeze to sweeten them up, I harvested two that came from this vine, and one other. Many of these vegetables started out in Ruth’s greenhouse, and she generously offered starts around the community.

I can't even eat jalapeños! Yet I grow some every year. These will get pickled, because I delight in the idea of pickled peppers. Then I can always have some handy when a spicy dish calls for one or two.

I can’t even eat jalapeños! Yet I grow some every year. These will get pickled, because I delight in the idea of pickled peppers. Then I can always have some handy when a spicy dish calls for one or two.

Butternut, spaghetti, and delicata squashes ready for delicious winter dinners.

Butternut, spaghetti, and delicata squashes ready for delicious winter dinners.

A bountiful calendula patch, thanks to Katrina's snipping of heads early in the season. What seemed brutal at the time resulted in a lush display later, a bright spot in the yard that makes me smile whenever I catch a glimpse in passing. These blooms are drying for tea.

A bountiful calendula patch, thanks to Katrina’s snipping of heads early in the season. What seemed brutal at the time resulted in a lush display and a bountiful harvest later, a bright spot in the yard that makes me smile whenever I catch a glimpse in passing. These blooms are drying for tea.

Garden quiche for Sunday brunch with a homemade crust, eggs from Pamela, and veggies all from the Mirador garden.

Garden quiche for Sunday brunch with a homemade crust, eggs from Pamela, and veggies all from the Mirador garden.

Hard work for two days, Katrina pried out the stepping stones and roughed up the gravel, then I leveled and reset them. I hope this will make it easier to keep them clear of snow and ice when the time comes, all too quickly.

Hard work for two days, Katrina pried out the stepping stones and roughed up the gravel, then I leveled and reset them. I hope this will make it easier to keep them clear of snow and ice when the time comes, all too quickly.

One lovely storm after another moves through these past few weeks.

One lovely storm after another moves through these past few weeks.

 

 

First Day of a New Year

View from the deck last Friday night. Alpenglow has been unreal this winter.

View from the deck last Friday night. Alpenglow has been unreal this winter.

Learning to walk, the path opens before me.

This has been my subterranean mantra for more than a decade; almost since I moved to this land. This land has been my most generous teacher. By land I mean this place, this singular spot on this whirling planet; the snow-covered earth beneath my feet, fleeting sunshine with low clouds settling through it, gradually veiling Land’s End, Coal Mountain, Mendicant Ridge; this forest in summer scent or winter wonderland, in sandals or snowshoes; this little fenced yard with garden paths among full bloom or shoveled clear through one-foot snow.

The larger question of place, where we live as a network of loose-knit communities, a tapestry of peoples that inhabit the two main valleys along this forked river system, intricately woven with smaller streams and valleys among mesas of many elevations, this land has also been a generous teacher as I, since I moved here two decades ago, have been learning to walk.

Most recently my ambulatory education has included really comprehending the phrase "use your legs, not your back" when lifting.

Most recently my ambulatory education has included really comprehending the phrase “use your legs, not your back” when lifting.

These past few weeks, Morning Rounds has consisted mostly of shoveling paths through the frequent snows to get where I need to go: the back gate, the compost, the bird feeders, the generator, the front gate, the car, the woodpile.

a foot deep down by the bird feeders...

a foot deep down by the bird feeders…

a mess up by the woodpile...

a mess up by the woodpile…

and a vertical endeavor shoveling snow off the tarps to get at the firewood.

and a vertical endeavor shoveling snow off the tarps to get at the firewood.

 

From the bird seed and the generator back to the house my shovel has kept plowed.

From the bird seed and the generator back to the house my shovel has kept plowed.

The beehive should be well-insulated by now.

The beehive should be well-insulated by now.

Marla helped me re-insulate the beehive a couple of weeks ago, right before the snow started falling. We pulled off the top strawbales and affixed, with some fumbling, blueboard-lined pine panels around the sides, and also put blueboard beneath the peaked roof, on top of the flat roof the bees sealed to the hive with propolis months ago. The first bees probably awoke as we removed the roof, its protective overhang too big for us to work around. As we fretted and fussed with the panels the bees began to stir, two or three first stepping to their threshold, then even flying out. It was very cold even then. By the time we got the panels set and the roof back on the whole hive was buzzing. They weren’t coming out, but we stood close and could hear them very busily buzzing some essential message to one another. A few hours later they were completely quiet again. I haven’t seen a bee since then, as the snow piles up on their roof, merging with the snow on the bales, creating a cozy snow cave inside which they are protected from the elements of what has turned into a very cold very snowy winter.

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Cattle drive into Crawford, last Friday.

Cattle drive into Crawford, last Friday.

Other memorable moments since Christmas:

Textural Affection

Textural Affection

Champagne with pomegranate seeds floating up and down like a lava lamp.

Champagne with pomegranate seeds floating up and down like a lava lamp.

Candlelit crystal

Candlelit crystal

A perfect light lunch on a snowy day, half a perfect avocado with a little Caesar dressing. When almost every dinner is a feast this time of year, a healthy snack midday makes sense.

A perfect light lunch on a snowy day, half a perfect avocado with a little Caesar dressing. When almost every dinner is a feast this time of year, a healthy snack midday makes sense.

Sunday's dinner starts with individually plated spinach salad from Ruth's garden, including carrots, the last of the beets, and greenhouse-grown spinach. Connie brought cheesy stuffed mushrooms to start with cocktails, and I roasted a happy lamb shoulder and mashed my entire potato harvest. Frozen peppermint cream in wine glasses finished the meal like an expensive aperitif. Yum.

Sunday’s dinner starts with individually plated spinach salad from Ruth’s garden, including carrots, the last of the beets, and greenhouse-grown spinach. Connie brought cheesy stuffed mushrooms to start with cocktails, and I roasted a happy lamb shoulder and mashed my entire potato harvest. Frozen peppermint cream in wine glasses finished the meal like an expensive aperitif. Yum.

Art Shot of the Day. Who can say what it is?

Art Shot of the Day. Who can say what it is?

Last night, sharing yet another holiday feast with good friends, this time we took ourselves out. We say again and again, “We can get better food at home when we cook for ourselves,” and it’s generally true. So many among us are excellent cooks, and that way we don’t have to drive at night and can be in our PJs by nine-thirty. We are rural dwellers who are getting older. We like the comforts of our homes. But last night we made the trek in the dark through light snow over roads plowed awhile ago, the four or five miles from our various homes to convene at The Vagabond in our little downtown. Dick Berardi has been a well-known Colorado chef for many decades, and plies his trade these days in downtown Crawford. A full menu met our appetites, and in that small dining room with other friends nearby and neighbors we didn’t know we ate and drank, talked and laughed, amid all the sparkles we needed for New Year’s Eve. And we still got to get in our PJs by ten.

Deco bling with a Dali lens

Deco bling with a Dali lens

surf 'n turf

surf ‘n turf

carnivore's delight

carnivore’s delight

homemade spumoni!

homemade spumoni!