Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring: it's what's for dinner.

This morning I had a pleasant (yeah, right) workout with Attila, who has agreed that my current workout plan isn't working out, so we're going to heavier weights and less cross-training. Then I mowed the back yard and groomed Max.

It's gotten hot here earlier than usual, so Max-Zoats is blowing his coat earlier than usual. Since his undercoat is white, it looks like an American Eskimo has exploded all over the back yard, and every bird from sparrow through robin to hawk is sporting a Mark Twain moustache as they pick up fur to line their nests.

Which, speaking of hawks, is kind of a weird deal. There was a sharp-shinned hawk overwintering in the neighbors' pecan tree (at the very edge of its Southern range) this winter. She was driven out by a breeding pair of red hawks, who have built a nest in the tree. . .yet the other birds and the squirrels who live there seem positively blase about having a pair of carnivores in the same house, was it were. The red-cockaded woodpeckers are back in their old spot, above the first crook in the branch, where one big limb is semi-dead, and the squirrels have squirrel babies in part of the tree, where the limb fell last winter during that big storm we had. It's like a condominium filled with adherents of two different political philosophies: I keep wondering when the massacre will start. Maybe, for the hawks, it's like living next door to a restaurant?

Tomorrow I simply MUST go buy tomato plants. Even though I don't have a decent garden plot this year, as garden plots in Texas have to be started in October and I was a little busy, I have to grow tomatoes. In my family, the unwillingness to plant tomatoes means you're going to be in a little plot of ground yourself before too long. The only time I worried about my Sainted Mother was when she told me she hadn't bothered to start a garden one year; the situation has since been remedied, and she now grows enough tomatoes for all of Seattle. It doesn't matter if you get them in too late and they don't set fruit (as mine didn't year before last, as I'd bought from a place up north); the point is that putting tomatoes in the ground means that you plan to be around to eat them on home-made white bread with mayo in a few months.

My tomatoes, by the way, will be going in the front beds, amongst the Russian butterfly bush and the American butterfly bush and the rose bush and the oregano and rosemary that are, despite a hundred-year drought, going strong. The back beds I'm mulching now in preparation for fall crops; I'll just have to buy my zucchini and pickling cucumbers at the farmer's market.

Which reminds me: There is only one thing I dislike about living in Texas at this time of year: raspberries.

My grandparents (Mom's parents) had what they called the "North 40" but was actually a plot of land that adjoined their back yard that they'd bought, far-sightedly, when they built their house up in Missouri. Granddad used to grow raspberries along the fence line. Mom would throw me out of the house early in the morning and tell me to get breakfast from the garden, so my foraging instincts were sharply-honed from an early age, and one of my favorite things was to go out after a morning walk with Granny and Granddad, before breakfast, and eat raspberries from Granddad's canes.

You can't do that here. Blackberries, yes--they grow like freaking weeds, and hide snakes of all sorts and produce fruit like there's no tomorrow. Plums go crazy. Herbs of any sort grow like it's ancient Greece and they have a walk-on role in one of Homer's plays. But raspberries? Grow like crazy, then fail to fruit because it gets too hot too fast. Whereas, in Seattle, you can (as I did two summers ago) buy a flat of raspberries at the farmer's market for five bucks, then turn to your mom and ask, "Are you getting any for dinner tonight?"

A sun-warmed, ripe, musky raspberry is better than sex, better than being cured of cancer, better than eternal salvation--and combines elements of each.

Raspberries and hawks nesting and Max barking in the back yard without his collar on and a brown thrasher in the compost pile: proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

14 comments:

bobbie said...

It's still a bit cold here to start 'maters, but soon, soon, soon!

nurse XY said...

Waiting on Gurney's to ship my tomato plants. And peppers. Everything else but corn in the ground.

terri c said...

LOVE this. I was out raking awhile myself. Now, I'm sitting on the couch with sleeping wolfhounds about and a small toothless terrier of a hot water bottle wedged against my arm. Goodness as well!

scotvixen said...

We just got hit with a big storm and I'm gonna have to see what I can save. My peppers and most herbs are ok, but 4 different varieties of tomato plants are all down and my cucumber is halfway across the yard out of its pot.
I'm hopeful to try and grow another huge watermelon like last year- 6lbs!

Strawberries are touch and see here, but when they do grow.... the taste is beyond wonderful.

Good luck to Jo's garden!

Heidi said...

Love the image of Mark Twain mustachioed birdies.

NEW NURSE said...

Sounds lovely. And, nice to be thinking about things involving renewel and growth

danielle said...

oh wow.....you just made me believe in summer again...home grown tomatoe sandwiches, salted, mayo on white bread....HEAVEN! (sorry Nanna and mom, they just dont taste right with butter - and I dont even like mayo!!). And the absolute best ever jam I had was the beach plum jam my Nanna, mom, and Aunt Norie made one summer when we were visting family in Texas....

Anonymous said...

I'm jealous. We're expecting 6-plus inches of snow, sleet and other assorted winter-type precipitation over the next 36 hours. I'm afraid the few robins we've seen so far this year are going to pack their bags and go south again until June!

MamaDoodle said...

Mmmm! Raspberries! I can't imagine living where there aren't fresh raspberries to be eaten warm off the vine. Now if I could just figure out how to get a long enough growing season to get a decent tomato crop . . .

lester said...

I hope you do like my wifey and leave the max combings on the fence post for the birds to find.
Garden fresh tomato, white bread, mayo, salt and coarse ground black pepper,mmmmmmm.

Rosanna said...

There's an old Strawberry Patch that we lovingly tend, (in front of the townhouse next door), because through the years----as the various renters have moved in-and-out----they've all had "No Interest," at all, in weeding/watering/fertilizing/caring-for the plants. We always "share" our hard work with the current occupants, but we "share more" with ourselves and our friends. Everybody's happy, (including the strawberry plants!); so the arrangement has actually worked out very well.

On our small wooden deck (just off the Kitchen), I plant flowers in 3 rectangular planters. One year, I had magenta, pink, and white cosmos flowers swaying gently, all Summer long, in the breeze; and I often thought of Edna St. Vincent Millay's kind, nature-loving words:

"I will be the gladdest thing under the sun...
I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one!"

messymimi said...

Enjoy your garden! Because i kill all living things except children, foster kittens, and crabgrass, i'll leave the poor plants to the tender mercies of people who know better how not to murder them, and buy mine at the produce stand.

shrimplate said...

I must quibble. Homer did not write plays. Perhaps you meant Sophocles, Euripides, or Aeschylus?

leaf-nosed bat said...

Yay for G&G's berries! I remember doing that for breakfast too! Thanks so much for calling up the memories, cousin.