Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Bunny 2020

This bunny is in its Eden. Always as the sun sets, a couple of bunnies enjoy dining on the part of the lawn kept mown. The day had been one of those stunningly blue and temperate June days (I think today is another). For a while this property was low on bunnies, but this year young ones were born, too young to know enough to run away from me. They grew up. So I know bunnies are thriving as they should. The second bunny ran as I approached, so this one looks lonely, but I assure you it isn't.

Sunday, June 21, 2020


It's a young turtle if its shell is vividly and clearly painted and shines, and surely a young one if it's crossing a road, likely in search of a place claim-able as territory. With great self-possession -- animals seem to have more confidence as humans have less -- it held its pose as I sidled near and snapped the camera. In the background is my own home, my own protective shell. So this is a picture of what's important to us both.

On this walk just a few minutes before, yards down the road, I met a pencil-slender baby copperhead snake lounging on the gravel in the exact spot copperheads in summer quite often lounge on the gravel. Recalling well the first time I met a copperhead -- full-sized -- at that spot and nearly stepped on it, on every walk year-round I glance down at that point on the road, and step lightly. Perhaps I bring them into being by imagining them there. Happy summer solstice.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

It Can't Be Beet

I grocery shop online every 16 days and have it delivered; today's delivery surprised me with vanilla yogurt instead of plain; a carton of 18 eggs rather than 12; and strangest, a bunch of fresh beets in place of a radish bunch.

How'd that happen? Indeed the illustration of the radish bunch on the order form might have looked a lot like fresh beets to the Middle Eastern middle-aged man who shopped and delivered today. He bypassed the house and I had to trot 100 yards after him to say, "I'm the first house. It says on my note, it's the first house you see." "Ho, sorry," he said, while I fled indoors; he wasn't masked like the other delivery people, and was long gone before I unpacked the groceries. The packaging and bags stank of cigarette smoke, and I thought: This time I ought to call the bosses and complain. His unusual name -- I looked it up -- is Arabic for "generous."

Annoyed, I washed and cooked the beets, which bled all over, meanwhile wondering who was this man, and where from? Syria? I happen to love beet greens and beet roots; radishes are the spartan, bloodless version, not so tasty but easier to clean up. Complain because there were 18 eggs and not 12? Divine, have you yourself ever made a mistake? (Yes.) Were folks tolerant and kind when you messed up on the job? (Mostly, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.) Divine, you smoked for years; did people complain about the cloud of reek hanging about you? (Only once.) Could you go into a Middle Eastern supermarket with a list made of pictures and get everything just right? (No.) His job is one no one wants unless they really, really need the money. I wondered whom he is supporting. Like everybody, he's doing the best he can. I didn't call.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Violets on Earth

I have not much to say today that springtime can't say for me. First, April has had numerous sunless days. After several sunless days, turning into weeks, of no visitors and no visiting, fewer phone calls because we're all in shock and can barely mumble, and all aware we are all in the same waterlogged boat, and this is real life -- a sunny day and noticing violets at my feet felt like spiritual sustenance. I don't grow these. They're 100 percent free random grace.

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Abnormal Groceries and Brand-Name Shame

You know how when people look in your cupboards or fridge without being asked to, you feel sort of -- naked? Or offended? As if they should beg your pardon? And how other people's cupboards and fridges seem utterly foreign?

You know how, if you have a choice, you hide generic and store brand supplies, instead putting brand-name cans and bottles out for guests? Which is why for hair products I began buying only Pantene because it was the only brand that if someone saw them in the bathroom it wouldn't embarrass me ("Aussie"? "BedHead"? "Nizoral"? "Pert"?).

You know how when you first start dating, you two go to all the best places, drink fine wine, gift the rarest chocolates, and then you settle in or marry and live like paupers scraping ash off burnt toast in dread of spending one extra penny?

Well, I'm giving all that up because now I grocery-shop online, and with the coronavirus hoarding shortages and shortfalls of this and that, one must accept substitutions for familiar name brands, allowing into my house, for the first time, strange new name brands and packaging at unfamiliar price points.

After unpacking my last grocery shipment I left the non-perishables out on top of the microwave not wanting put them away and could not figure out why, but now I think:

1) These brands are like strangers in the house and I have this weird need to get used to them.
2) This is my "store." Actually going to the store could be lethal, what with all these people scorning masks and wanting their freedom, so I've re-created a version of a "store" and enjoy the feeling of variety and wealth that was part of American grocery shopping. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Shopping My Lawn

It's no longer smart to buy fresh greens at the store twice a week, so I hunt the lawn and surrounds for dandelion greens -- strong-tasting but palatable if "massaged" with oil and then vinegar; thanks to friend Jody for the tip. And while hunting -- needing about 3 ounces for a serving, because the greens break down radically -- I stop and see: a morel.

Haven't seen morels on this land for years, despite scouring the deep woods for 'em every April, and here on the side of the lane was one insolent little perfectly formed morel, and then I saw another, and another, a total of six, and then after getting scissors from the house and cutting them I looked again and found two more. I'd have missed them entirely had I not been hunting dandelions and spring onions that very day and hour.

The romantic cliche about finding morels in the woods had over the years displaced in my mind the fact that morels, being sociable, liking disturbed earth, prefer to pop up next to a well-traveled path. These occupied an area about four feet square alongside the gravel driveway.

I told a friend and she said I had been aligned with God. For the next five days, I cased the spot for more. Morels don't regrow. They decide when, where, and how they'll pop up, they're all up at once, and either you're in their moment or you're not. Sliced and sauteed them.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Irish Brown Bread

The pandemic says (to us all), "Show me what you're made of," and I never thought about what I was made of, but whatever I am made of recalled from seventh-grade home economics class how to substitute for a cup of buttermilk 1/2 cup of evaporated milk and almost 1/2 cup of water, leaving just enough room in the cup for a tablespoon of lemon juice, to sour the milk. This solved the problem of the buttermilk required to make an Irish brown bread.

Could have blended evaporated milk, water, and a spoonful of plain yogurt; that works too, but I am hoarding my last cup of yogurt, unopened; the grocery stores are not taking online orders because they're overrun with orders and can't be sure what will be available. Friend ordered chicken breasts and the in-store shopper said she could have turkey tails, would she like to substitute turkey tails? That's what they had.

I made the Irish brown bread (a quickbread, a "soda bread") because that specialty coarse-ground flour is what I had. It was Irish brown bread or no bread. The recipe made a 10 to 12-inch loaf, too big for one person. Elementary-school math helped me halve the recipe and figure roughly how much less baking time the half-a-loaf needed. It wouldn't be one-half the time, because baking doesn't work that way. How do I know baking doesn't work that way? It's part of what I'm made of.