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Monday, April 5, 2010

The Possibilities

I love this time of year when everything is blooming.  The garden is glistening green with new growth.  The early bulbs are showing their stark and gentle colors through the gardenscape.
As corny as it sounds, it still amazes me that things come back.  I forget from year to year exactly what is in the garden.  It  always surprises and amazes me. Sometimes it's not my forgetfulness, but the amusing interloping of squirrels moving bulbs around,  hiding their "nuts" for the cold hard winter.  Some are moved about by the wind whirling dried seed pods everywhere.  Sometimes they move because I moved them and forgot that I moved them.  The winter months can do strange things to the mind.

What I  cherish are the possibilties that come with starting seeds inside when the weather is breaking into spring and before the spirit is broken by winter.

 At first, it always feels useless starting those tiny black seeds, those dots, in little peat pots, keeping them in the dark away from the sun and watering little patches of dirt.  Then,  out of nowhere, little green leaves poke up and out leaning toward the light.  The uselessness turns into hope and the possibilties begin.

The herbs are my garden and cooking backbone, always within  steps of the kitchen.

I look at the tiny basil babies and start planning their futures;  freshly torn onto pizza Margherita, tossed into marinara sauce, or pounded into pesto with a fine reggiano, good olive oil, and toasted pine nuts.  Will I snip them into salads,  roll them around smoked salmon, tear them into a Tuscan ribolita soup, or layer them with gruyere for a grand grilled cheese? Our good friend, Banjo,  is basil growing,  longing for salad caprese, the ultimate fresh basil bite. 

Parsley, the workhorse of the herbal garden, will go onto and into everything.  Nothing will go to waste..  The stems will go into stock and the leaves will flavor soups and stews.  The parsley will freshen and finish almost every meal during summer. 

One of my favorite herbs is fresh dill.  Delicate dill.  When bushy and fragrant it will adorn chicken noodle soup, matzoh balls, grilled salmon, or chowders.  I love to cure huge salmon filets slathered in fresh dill, salt, and sugar, turning it for several days until the sweet salted dill infuses the salmon and cold cooks it and cures it.    In late summer, when pickling time rolls around, fresh dill shines and delivers.

With limited space to garden, my vegetable growing is relegated to tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. I grow several varieties of each and we never tire of them. Tomatoes are the darlings of summer; fresh cut into salads, roasted until intensely sweet and concentrated, or sliced onto white bread with salt, pepper, and mayonaise as a summer sandwich.  I love them plucked straight from the vine still warm from the sun, eaten like apples, dripping juice down my chin and leaving seeds on my cheeks.

I can't wait.  I must wait.  I will wait. I'll watch them and help them grow.  These tiny seedlings have so much potential and endless possibilities.

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