Tuesday, September 29, 2009

JoJo and the hawk.

September 29th 2009

At 11:00 a.m
when I walk to my garden
this morning
I see a big gray hawk
so beautiful
I whisper to myself :
" welcome to the garden !"
the gray hawk lands on the branch of tree ,
turns the head ,looks at me
with a very very sharp and very bright eyes
seems to understand me
I feel very bad for myself
because I forget to bring camera
to take picture at that moment
to share with you,
because it's a very rare to see
in the garden
I really hope that the gray hawk
will find a source of foods
in the garden.

JoJo Tran
Cascade P-Patch Garden

Monday, September 14, 2009

3 seeds.

My friend Chris came into my office in late July with a bag of "Sarzana" squash seeds from Italy. She asked if I wanted a few, since they produced lovely, delicately flavored courgettes and were compact, plant-wise--meaning they didn't vine and trail off over everything in a 15-foot radius.

I loved the package: so very not "American seed packet" in format, with planting instructions in Italian.

I held out my hand and she tipped 1,2,3,4,5,6 seeds into it, which I placed in an envelope labeled "Sarzana" and put in my purse. A few days later, three of those seeds were in a mound of dirt in the front of my plot, and a few days ago, I harvested my first squash.

I sliced them thinly, lengthwise, dredged them in flour, and fried them up in hot olive oil until they were golden brown with some darker brown spots on each side.

QUICKLY onto a paper towel; QUICKLY a sprinkle of sea salt and a few turns of the peppermill; QUICKLY a squeeze of lemon--just a few drops--and ooooooh, a race to the table to sit down while they were still blistering hot.

That's late summer on a plate, right there.

Lois and Melissa

Lois surveys her newly-assigned plot!

Amanda, Alex, and Margot (4 legged) visit the garden.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

signs of life

Between my apartment door and my plot in the p-patch--about a block's worth of walk--is the gazebo of the Cascade People's Center. During the day, the benches are empty, and underneath them are plastic grocery bags of stuff, a sleeping bag here, a piece of cardboard there. As soon as dusk approaches, the people who belong to those things return one by one and prepare to stretch out for the night. This is where they live, but they know to be scarce during the light.

The rats, more plentiful, aren't bound by the fear of being ushered away, and they are brazen even in the bright sunshine.

Across from the gazebo is a small grove of flowering trees, under which is ground cover with small, glossy leaves (cool in the heat of the day) and a few rocks and concrete sculptures with mosaic. During our hot spell a couple of weeks ago, the people who are normally gone by day stayed. They didn't sit in the gazebo, but they sat in the cool ground cover under the trees.

Today I walked past that spot and this is what I saw. A Ben and Jerry's container, filled with dried up roses, blueberries, and other flora. Left behind.

I wonder if it was a shrine. Or a memorial.

Or the kind of sign of civilization that causes people to adorn their dinner tables with vases of flowers.

I hope there was once ice cream in that container, and that the people who ate it had good company and together took some comfort from that cold deliciousness.

I thought about picking it up and throwing it away, but on second thought, I determined that it was not trash.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Water, water everywhere.

Let the record show: on August 13, 2009, at 5:30 PM, your blogmistress heard thunder. At 5:35 PM, she was sitting in her car with the rain coming down in torrents. At 5:40 PM, she drove past the garden, and could swear she saw the hollyhocks straining upward, the fruit trees smiling from canopy to roots.

And now, at home, the window is open and the rain is still coming down. Not an isolated shower, this. Not a tease of droplets, after a parched summer. No, this is the rain that is rhythmic, that creates puddles, that rolls in waves down Fairview toward Lake Union, that causes cars to rev and scream their way up Denny Hill.

One might curse it, if it were December and the veil of wet darkness had grown heavy and with months of winter yet to come.

But it's not. It's August, after dry, after hot, and with more dry forecast.

So for this evening, it is simply relief and grace. I'm tempted to go to the garden and remember what it feels like to pull a weed out of sodden ground, but instead, I will sit by the open window--TV off--with a cup of tea.

Eyes closed.

Just the sound of the rain.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Golden orbs. In the sky, on stalks.

On those quick trips to the garden, just to water, in between other errands, I rarely take my camera. But I always have my iPhone! If you have one and use its camera, you know that it tends to produce haze and halos around objects in bright light. In the case of these two images, it's fitting. It was blazing hot in the garden, and heat really seemed palpable and visible!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Musing on the heat...

From the middle of a record heat wave, from the 86 degree interior of my apartment at 7 AM, I have to say I'm tired of it.

I grew up in Arkansas, so I'm no stranger to heat like this. It's unrelenting there in the summer, and the humidity is always wrapped around you like a shawl of thick soup. And even though almost everyone has air conditioning these days, it was not so when I was a child.

And because I was a child, the standard tricks for cooling off were always linked to being cared for: my mom urging me to drink ice water, my dad placing a bowl of ice on the kitchen table and positioning an oscillating fan behind it and making sure that my brother and I were in its path as we ate our supper. My great-grandmother turning on the attic fan at night to pull the slightly cooler air in from outside and taking me to the bathroom to run cold water over my wrists, just at the pulse points: "it will cool your blood so you can sleep!" My other grandmother making all the children sit on the edges of the beds before retiring, as she moved from room to room in the dark with a basin of cold water and a washcloth, bathing our feet before we put them onto the white sheets.

I couldn't help thinking about these things the last few nights as I walked past the gazebo into the garden at dusk to water my second crop of mustard greens and my beet seedlings for fall.

There were the men and women who frequent the benches and line the mulched beds beneath trees. Their plastic bags were with them, their pants legs rolled up, their shirts open, their hair plastered with sweat to their faces. They had water...I looked for that. But it was miserable. And though a couple smiled and greeted me and remarked on the misery of such temperatures, there were others who lowered their eyes as I passed.

I got to the shed and retrieved the water key and the watering can and set about my business. I wondered what would happen if I gathered up all those people and sat them down on one of the benches, one-by-one, and poured this cool water over their feet. If I would be refreshing them or just washing away my own sense of conflictedness about the social and cultural realities that structured my life and theirs.

I finished watering and walked back through the lushness (why, oh, why, didn't I plant tomatoes, this of all years? I could have even managed okra, I'm certain, with this weather!), and though I wanted to escape out the front entrance, I retraced my steps.

I walked back through the makeshift encampment, and I met the eyes of everyone who met mine.

There is no message to this musing, no end.

It's still very hot.

I miss my grandmothers.