Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Speaking of Kale,…..

     Excuses, excuses! During our long drawn out Spring, it was “too cold,” to garden, leaving little to write about. Now, in mid-July, with record high temperatures, it is “too hot,” to garden, at least after 9:15 AM in our zone seven garden. The excessive heat and humidity slows my weeding to a crawl, and my writing has wilted to nearly a halt.
     Like a competitive Double-Dutch rope-jumper, I have been waiting for the perfect rhythm, the ideal circumstances, before jumping into telling the gardening stories of 2013.  Nevermind! By the time that happens, we will be onto next years gardening season, with its’ own set of challenges and rewards! Join me then, and enjoy the pictures, as I explore some highlights of this years’ garden.
     On the eve of our eighth season of gardening in this space, we have introduced no fewer than forty varieties of flowering plants and shrubs to the beds and landscape.
From Asclepia to Zinnias, a host of blossoms delight our eye, intoxicate us with their fragrances, and serve as “all-inclusive” pleasure park for the countless insects that are drawn to make this their home.
     This seasons’ edible garden got off to a slow start, but is catching up nicely, with a variety of tomatoes, carrots, beans, peppers, turnips, squash, beets and cucumbers among other vegetable treats. Also, I look forward to extending the growing season by planting for a Fall harvest.  Just this week,
I harvested a crop of Garlic that was planted last Fall. From this we are enjoying our best crop ever of Garlic Scapes, the tender green stems and flower buds of the growing bulb.  They are excellent for Pesto, though I enjoyed them sautéed in olive oil with some onions, garlic and wilted Kale.
     Speaking of Kale, it gets my vote, hands down, as the most celebrated vegetable of 2013. It seems one can’t turn around without encountering some story lauding the health benefits and flavor of this readily grown, leafy green.  It is so versatile, good raw or cooked, steamed or in a smoothie. Get it however you can! Ours’ is Lacinato, an Italian heirloom variety that the reader may remember from my last blog entry in March.  It was planted in honor of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 21st. I hope our plants will keep us supplied with leafy greens through the Fall and possibly into the Winter.
     Often times, gardens progress in small, almost imperceptible ways. A few seeds scattered here, some weeds pulled there, and before one knows it, the landscape has been transformed.
Still, every now and then, one is fortunate to make a discovery and introduce an element to ones’ garden – or, another aspect of ones’ life - that elevates the entire enterprise beyond one’s wildest, most extravagant hopes. We were blessed with one such experience last weekend, when we visited our local flea market.  We almost didn’t go, owing to the wet conditions left by the thunderstorms of the previous night. Still, old habits die hard, and we were curious to see if anyone was there.  Oddly enough, there were enough people on hand, a critical mass of vendors and shoppers alike, to make it worth getting out of the car. Then,….it is true,  that John saw it first, but that is only because I was busy getting Druid, our champion Irish Terrier, out of the car. Otherwise, I am sure that I would have picked up on its’ “scent,” immediately when my car door opened. As it was, it was only a moment later that I sensed a “disturbance” in the “Force,” and began scanning the area for something unusual.  I didn’t have to look far.  Placed on a corner table at the intersection of two aisles stood the perfect garden fountain.  Approximately two feet tall, made of cast concrete, (like the pair of lions that greet one on the back of the house), it is classically modeled as a putto, wrestling a dolphin from whose mouth the water flows.
In scale, proportion, and aesthetic, it is the perfect piece, for our perfect place. We estimate it to date from approximately the 1930’s, which makes it roughly contemporary with the house. It is in excellent condition, with a gently smoothed patina. In years of experience combing flea markets and auction houses, we have never seen another quite like it. We wanted confirmation that it was indeed a functioning piece – that the water channel was not obstructed – but otherwise, it was an *M-H-I,” a Must-Have-Item!
     This being a rather “laisssez-faire” operation, the owner of this piece was nowhere to be seen. Drat! We strolled about the market, trying to look indifferent, even as we bubbled with excitement. We got to the far end of the market, where another vendor, aware of our garden interests, asked if we had seen this fountain. Obviously, he had taken notice of it. “Yes,” we replied, “but we aren’t sure it actually works” This, an attempt to suggest lukewarm interest. It wouldn’t do to have the sellers taking us for granted. We ambled back toward the intersection where the statue stood, beckoning.  Another, neighboring vendor,  (Val,) assured us that the owner would be back soon, and quoted us a price that really was too good to be true. This had the effect of agitating us even more. We scanned the horizon, looking for the unknown vendor. Then, Val said “Here he come!” motioning to our left. The face was familiar, though we had no idea of his name. A guy with a shaggy haircut, baggy shorts, a T shirt and a baseball cap.  Sound familiar? Val repeated his ridiculous quote, which brought a scowl to the owners’ eyes. He squinted like he was having a big splinter removed.  “Make me an offer,” he suggested. I responded with the same ridiculously low price that the neighboring vendor, Val had told us. Not wasting any time, the owner replied “Add _____ to that, and we’ve got a deal. After all, I had to carry that thing all the way here from my car.” He motioned to the far end of the market, as though covering that distance justified his asking price.  Here, I raised my doubts about the water channel being clear of obstruction, a potential sale-killer.  Not to be outdone, the vendor pulled a pen from his T-shirt pocket and stuck it as far down the hole as he could without losing it.  “There’s just a bit of mud in the bottom,” he assured us. John and I exchanged glances for just a moment, then, nodded to the vendor in agreement. The vendor passed the additional cash on to Val, the neighbor who claimed to have “brokered” the sale.  “I did my best for you,” Val told the owner.
“I’ll get a shopping cart for you,” the vendor started to go on, but, despite its substantial weight, I had already scooped the fountain up in my arms, and was headed for the car. An hour later, the channel had been cleared of any dry mud, and the fountain was in place at the center of the pond in our herb garden, gurgling away, with the sunlight glinting off its dancing waters. It couldn’t be any more perfect if we had written the specs for it. It had come home.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your find! (Wish I'd seen it first :)