Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spring, Summer and Dinner

Rain, wind...sun?

Right now, this particular transition from spring to summer, seems unusually swift and forceful. Buckets of rain, tornado warnings and flooding is occasionally punctuated by periods of humid heat and blissful sunny days. Everything feels delayed and I continue to hear about the hardships many farmers are facing with flooding, fields too muddy to work in and moist conditions that raise concerns of pests and disease.

That said, some things continue to persist, even thrive. Purple and white wild violets compete for their time in the sun among the thick patches of ever green and ever growing grass. The blossoms on the lilacs, choke cherries and crab apples are prolific and fragrant. My patch of rhubarb is ripening and chives are topped with tight buds of blossoms. The black flies are numerous and hungry.

In spite of the challenges, A few farm stands and most Farmers' Markets opened this weekend with the typical abundance of vegetable and flower starts but also cool weather crops of spinach, bok choi and swiss chard. The greenhouses have given birth to european cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, herbs and mesclun. Fresh cheeses, maple syrup, pullet eggs, crusty bread, frozen meat and spring sausages round out the offerings, making it possible to leave the markets with all the makings of a week's worth of meals.

Spring, with its unpredictable weather patterns, is still here and summer will come eventually, but in the meantime, I feed myself, family and friends.

  • Pan-fried trout; wilted, garlicky swiss chard; savory rosemary bread pudding
  • Simple, roasted chicken thighs topped with rhubarb chutney; creamy polenta
  • Linguini with spicy sausage, olives, herbs, chives, cherry tomatoes and parmesan; mesclun in balsamic vinaigrette; maple sweetened ricotta with wafers
  • Chevre and chive souffle; barley, cucumber and cherry tomato salad; spring onion soup
  • Tacos of black beans and chevre topped with sweet chard-cilantro slaw and pickled red onions
  • Homemade paneer with lentils; chicken masala; basmati rice; naan
  • Bibimbap with leftover meats, fried egg and bok choi; miso soup

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Dance Parties and Old Maid

There are times I am reminded, with sudden and absolute clarity, my purpose. 

It started with an impromptu, after dinner dance party in our living room. Cleaning up dishes and pots, we swiveled our hips and bounced around to Beyonce, James Brown and Green Day. The littlest did her best rendition of a Go Go Girl, while the middle practiced jerky robotic movements. The oldest, most in control of her body, spun and jumped and bounced to every beat with certainty. It was a blast and I found myself laughing out loud.

Eventually though, the energy slowed down and I found the kids sitting on the living room rug, playing the card game, Old Maid. Giggling, teasing and chatting, they were focused only on each other. It was lovely to see and I felt a surge of  longing to be a part of their camaraderie.

But it was then, while they sat together and apart from me, that I acknowledged the bittersweet reminder that these three do not belong to me. Yes, I am a devastatingly powerful influence as their mother and they are mine to protect, love and guide, but only for a tiny window of time - because ultimately, like all of us, they belong to the world.

The enormity of it scares me.

This same world is rife with famine, civil wars, pollution, environmental devastation and horrific violations against the most basic of human rights. What, exactly, am I preparing them for? How do I instill in them respect, kindness, and service to others? How do I teach them that strength is not always with muscle and humility does not denote weakness? How do I show them that to love others is a blessing and that hatred will destroy you? How do i teach them to stand up for themselves and to stand up for others?

I've been told by those much wiser than I, that the only way to do this is by example. That by living with sincerity and love and wonder, my children cannot help but rise to my expectations. That by being accountable to these three small, frail and mighty humans, I will rise to meet the challenge. But tonight, cradling a cup of tea, eyes stinging from lack of sleep, I have my doubts. It's been a long day...a long month actually and I've lost my temper, said things I didn't mean, wasted time with details that didn't matter....shouted too loudly and too often. None of this is easy and frankly, I don't know if I'm up to the challenge or even that it is enough...

...but I guess it will have to do.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Finally, spring is truly here.

The temperatures are rising, hovering at 65, sometimes more. Skin is being exposed at alarming speed. I hardly recognize friends and neighbors as men shave their beards and women don tank tops. Even the dogs are shedding tremendous amounts of fur, looking all the world like half-blown dandelion blossoms, with soft tufts of fuzz gathered in awkward places.

There is talk of fishing, boat rides, summer camps and potlucks on the lawn. The maples have budded, the grass is growing by inches every day, the daffodils are blooming. Peepers are singing in mass numbers, beckoning would-be lovers into the wetlands. New life is everywhere or will soon be. Babies in the barn, birds building all feels so ripe and ready!