Turning something sweet into a savory delight. Friday, May 1, 2020

In the morning  Steve brought around a tray of plantlets and a bag of lemons for me to preserve as we are almost at the end of the current jar. Here is an image of his potting shed. I’m lucky that he brings plants to me, but this photo does beckon me into the space, it’s so seductive, a gardener’s delight—so many unusual plants, so carefully tended.

And what about those beautiful old fashioned watering cans, so elegantly designed and gloriously preplastic.

Before Covid and after he retired Steve used to come around early on Thursday mornings and weed for an hour. What a friend!

and then Jeffrey would make each of us a poached egg, gathered freshly from the three generous harpies

today we gave Steve a slice of the savory matza brei J made for lunch. It was delicious.

By this gesture – turning something sweet into a savory delight–J managed to turn the tables on a malevolent ghost that has haunted our relationship. When we first met J tried to seduce me by an offering of matza brei, which needless to say he did not know that I hated. Really hated, to the extent of feeling queezy when faced by its stickily sweet lumpishness. Needless to say the seduction did not work, and we’ve muddled along, but this barely suppressed failure (on my part, to overcome sticky earlier marital associations; and on his part to misjudge my taste and person, imagining me to be a much sweeter person than I am) has existed as a sort of ghost at the table, a bit like Elijah, never there but still taking up space, and always threatening to materialize. So, when J was inspired yesterday to turn matza brei into the most delicious savory concoction, he banished the ghost, and I guess it means we will stagger on together into the twilight.

There is a covid ritual to these exchanges: We all wear masks, Steve deposits his gifts on the stoop and steps back at least six feet. I bring in the bag of lemons, wearing gloves, and then put out his wrapped slice of matza brei and step back again, and we exchange the day’s news.

In the vegetable garden I planted out another green fingers pickling cucumber to make up the trio at the base of the tepee, a pepper from Craig, and three marigolds, and tied up the tomatoes, reusing the twine that was holding the favas upright.

Lesley Ruda, my oldest friend in the world—we grew up together in Zimbabwe, and she now lives in San Francisco—sent me, even before she saw my last post about delphinium color, a pic she had taken walking in the Golden Gate Park

true blue

And speaking of color, look at the foliage on the Persimmon; it seems that it was only a few weeks ago that it was a bare scraggy twig sticking up out of the ground

now: vivid chartreuse foliage, which will darken and drop as the fruits ripen, turning densely orange

Secret is in full bloom again, the most lovely and most highly scented of the roses that still grow in the front yard 

You can also see, also in full bloom, and dwarfing our house, Mme Alfred Carrière, an antique climber, released in France in 1879, considered to be a Noisette though its blooms are more Bourbon-like. It has nearly thornless canes, is a repeat bloomer, and seems to suffer no diseases here. There is a fun story of how I came by this rose, but that must wait for another time. The salvia is Indigo Spires that has been growing in this garden since its inception, though it meanders around, always returning, however, to roost with Secret—an harmonious pair.

In the evening I cut the fat fennel from the cucumber bed, chopped it into tiny pieces and used it, with onions, as a base for my version of Sicilian pasta. Fennel and sardines, pine nuts and raisins, tomato paste and saffron. When I lived in Sydney I would use fresh sardines, but they are hard to come by here. We were lucky, however, to have a can of large succulent aromatic sardines from Portugal – part of a package of rare cheeses, luxury canned fish and ham that arrived as a gift from Katie and Susan for my birthday. I only wish we could have shared the bounty with them. But we will do some sharing when we are released.

With a final scattering of snipped fennel fronds.

We ate the pasta with a bright green salad from the garden, one of the last of the season.

It is too hot here for lettuces to grow, in the summer, without a great deal of coddling 

2 thoughts on “Turning something sweet into a savory delight. Friday, May 1, 2020

  1. Dear Lesley, It’s lovely to see the changes in your garden. As someone who never, until 6 months ago, had a garden I am slowly learning the nuanced lives of plants. I thought autumn was when plants uniformly fell asleep until spring. Instead, when I wake up in the morning I see bulbs have pushed up overnight – bright green leaves. The salvia keeps blooming and the sage has buttons of new growth ready to replace the sunburnt tops of the bushes. Meanwhile the ash and the elms are dropping their leaves but the lilac has new buds crowding in where dead leaves are still hanging. A very old red rose is starting to bloom again, chives are hurtling skyward. My neighbours with vegetable gardens are harvesting dozens of pumpkin, beetroot as well as planting garlic. I can barely keep up. The native Hakea around the corner has ‘blossomed’ with an abundance of round red fruit (or are they flowers?) which are being gorged upon by vast numbers of bees. No uniformity at all! My apple tree brings parrots and honeyeaters amongst other birds. The new romance with plants is somewhat back breaking, and I am deeply annoyed that the possums come in the night and shit in the birdbath. x Judy

    • Judy this is wonderful, thankyou. It makes vivid to me your little patch of teeming life in Castlemaine. All those years as a photo historian have honed your skills of observation and description. Yes, possums are shitty, Australian ones are prettier than the US variety but just as shitty.

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