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August 2006 Archives

August 2, 2006

Salad Days

Seems I've entered my salad days. Alas, not the salad days of Shakespeare, but simply those of a long, hot summer when cooking much of anything is a sacrifice I'm not willing to make.

That means most every night we've been eating salad, starting with a terrific panzanella inspired by my sister's gift of four loaves of Jay's fabulous wood-oven baked bread. In a burst of local eating, that being all the rage these days, I added my very own basil and tomatoes from the deck to the cubes of bread. It was short-lived however because I also added Nicoise olives, some capers and roasted peppers from the cupboard before drizzling it all with tomato juice/olive oil dressing. Hearty, satisfying and nothing to cook, the panzanella made for a close to perfect supper.

Next up for salads was horiatiki, a specialty from Steve's Greek Cuisine I often get when I'm near Faneuil Hall at lunchtime. It's a huge bowl filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, feta cheese and olives, and just like the panzanella, it doesn't have any lettuce. It was easy to duplicate at home with a few new tomatoes from the deck but otherwise I had to rely on the grocery store. The cucumbers and peppers were advertised as local, so that was good, but the crucial and truly delicious feta, came straight from Greece.

With the promise of record-breaking temperatures today - that would be 102 degrees, and by the way that's not a dry heat - our supper salad run will continue. Even the Boston Globe is on the same track. Tonight we'll have Salade Cambodgienne, fortuitously a part of today's Food Section. Perfection would again be no cooking but there's chicken to poach and dressing to boil so I'm heading out to the kitchen now to get the cooked stuff out of the way. There's still no lettuce involved, and if I were up in Orange, I could make this with the cabbage and carrots that are coming along up there. At least I'll be able to use my own mint and basil. The cilantro went to seed too early.

All this salad, day after day, maybe Shakespeare was on to something. Do you think I'm starting to look a little younger?

August 13, 2006

The Need to Weed

Remember that bit of dialogue in 'Top Gun' when Tom Cruise' partner at flight school talks about his need for speed? Well in my Dad's case, it's all about the weeds.

After the lengthy rains and super hot weather, this year's weeds define a crop bonanza. Had he planned for it, my Dad could have made a killing at the Farmer's Market with his purslane. Instead, he's always just considered it one of the many weeds that threaten his neat rows of vegetables and thus, he has the need to weed.

Beyond their overwhelming presence this year, the weeds and the physical chore of weeding, answer another need for my Dad. Much as he loves sitting in a rocker on the porch and looking out over the town to the hills beyond, he loves being out in the garden even more. And at this time in the season, that pretty much means weeding, since my Mom is the one who usually picks the vegetables. Outside, kneeling for hours straight, he's quiet and absorbed in the task. Two rows over, I'm kneeling and weeding too.

At first my weeding goes quickly, and I'm thinking this isn't so bad. Then I reach the crab grass, where every single root puts up a fight. Progress is slow and the rows to be weeded just stretch on and on. I'm sweating so much it's just dripping off my nose and chin, and the bugs are starting to circle though I know enough now to spray repellent before I set out for the garden. I'm thinking weeding is a pretty crappy job, but then I look over at my Dad again. He's just moving steadily along, leaving a perfectly cleared path behind him. The dirt is neatly mounded up towards the vegetables and not a weed is left. It's easy to see he's perfectly content.

I turn back to weeding my row and begin imagining what's going through his mind. I blank out the circling bugs and sweaty drips to accept the challenge of reining in the weeds as he is doing. I become oblivious to anything but the physical exertion and the resulting satisfaction each time I toss another fistful of roots into the bucket. Putting the discomfort aside, I think about the continuity of this garden, from past generations to now. It's a garden you can put all your hope into in Spring and then dedicate your season's work to it, regardless of what bounty results. Each year it confirms again that hard work results in great satisfaction. And I think that's why he's perfectly content.

About August 2006

This page contains all entries posted to hey jud in August 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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