Green is exploding everywhere, and the lushness of it all is balm to a Bush-weary heart. The herb garden is looking good after some vigorous weeding and pruning, the garden is ready for planting, and best of all, we've been cutting asparagus. Really, everyone who can ought to have an asparagus bed; the tender green spears are the only fresh vegetables available right now (unless one has a cold frame or a greenhouse). In her new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver has a whole chapter on asparagus and her enthusiasm for it.
That's a book I can most heartily recommend. I wish everyone, especially everyone in a position of power who has an ounce of empathy for us commoners, would read it and, more importantly, act upon its insights. Kingsolver's argument for locally grown, cooked-from-scratch food converges with the way I've been thinking about food, but it must surely be convincing even for those readers who haven't thought much about the topic. I'll have more to say about this book in the near future; stay tuned.
Our daughter and grandkids were here for a few days while my son-in-law was out of town. It's always such a joy to have them here. We had lunch at the restaurant Tristan favors for its automobile decor; we visited a local nursery and bought some plants; we played many games of Yahtzee and Parchesi, with grandma being very impressed by six-year-old Anya's math skills as revealed by those games. Probability, strategy, addition and subtraction all come into play, especially in Yahtzee. For the home schooled, educational possibilities are infinite and almost always fun. At the nursery Anya looked for a perennial with a red flower, and finally found a variety of lupine that met the criteria. Her mom and I bought pepper, tomato, parsley, and rosemary plants. Hannah's already started her own herb garden in a burst of new-found interest, so we dug up some chives for her, along with a lovage plant that had sprung up on its own out in the garden (James and I did this yesterday, wearing our raincoats and tall rubber boots; it had been a stormy morning).
Hannah and I also baked some sourdough bread and I gave her some of my starter (and, of course, a loaf of the final product). In recent weeks I've been trying to perfect my bread baking, with mixed success. The flavor of the sourdough rye is usually excellent, even if the loaves don't always rise as much as I think they should or tear because I've proofed them too long. Jim bought some European bread proofing baskets that I love. The final rise of the dough occurs in these cane baskets, thoroughly dusted with flour, so that the breads are imprinted with a floury pattern that looks very cool.
There's always bug- and rock-collecting at grandma's, too, and this time was no exception. Anya's even getting her two-year-old brother interested--well, somewhat interested, as his first love is anything with four wheels. He does know the word "fossil," although I'm pretty sure he doesn't really know what that means. And he is definitely interested in bugs. We had a couple of bug and spider rescues, courtesy of Anya.
So that's how I've been spending my time--very pleasantly, with little time and no inclination to read about political scandals, government incompetence, impending economic disaster, or the apparently unending war in Iraq. It's been a lovely break.