Patience

I don’t think I meant it when I came home from the store even though all the crocuses are showing the tips of their yellow and lavender blossoms, the lilac buds are swelling, the sky is perfectly clear and the sun brilliant. I realized I didn’t mean it, when there I was, incontrovertible evidence, standing over the bed in the southeast corner of the vegetable garden, spade in hand.  I know you’ve guessed what I didn’t mean. I didn’t mean that I wasn’t going near the garden today, because it was plain enough that spring had come out this morning just to pull me outdoors. Dandelions  under the surface of soil and leaves had come alive, not enough to pick and eat, but plenty to pull and throw in the new pile over the fence. There were a couple of pieces of ice still hanging on, but not so frozen that I couldn’t break them up. Spring roots pull out easily for some reason. Maybe they haven’t had time to put out those little hairs that cling so tightly to the soil. The crop of dandelions in that spot were, depending on how you looked at it, either horrific or God’s gift to the salad lover in me.

When we first moved here evidence of the old ways still extant in certain places tantalized us, and we  learned at some point to stop and ask questions. The dandelions are a case in point. Out walking in early spring, we often came upon someone cutting dandelion greens from the roadside, and I would feel that faint recollection of something familiar to me that I couldn’t quite define. So one day I simply asked what they were doing, and they answered just as easily, We’re cutting dandelion greens.

And I say, Do you eat them?

And they answer, Yes, and suddenly and all unwittingly I am treated to a dissertation on wild greens in general and dandelion greens in particular. First there is rule number one. Cut only new plants at soil level, that is to say plants that have not blossomed.   2. Put them in a paper bag.   3. Pick only the amount you will eat for supper tonight. 4.  When you get home put them in a bowl full of cold water.

Rule number two. Prepare them to eat. The best way to handle this is to pull the leaves apart from the center of the plant. Wash the leaves carefully as they will probably be dirty and very likely there will be an insect or so wanting to share it with you.   2. Drain off the cold water.   3. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet, place the greens in and and cook quickly, stirring all the while. Watch closely and as soon as you see the greens turning darker remove them from the heat. They are ready now to slip in beside a main dish with a splash of vinegar and some salt and pepper, although there are many I’ve talked to who consider a plate of dandelion greens and vinegar a grand dinner all by itself.

Once you have adjusted to dandelion greens you can go on to others that I pick as they appear and that I call Perpetual Salad. There are foolish people who call these greens weeds. I am really anxious to have my first Perpetual Salad of the season. I could be wrong, but I think it will go like this. For one thing I will ask Fiona to come with me as she is a bit  and doesn’t mind bending and standing over and over for a long time. I will do with her what my grandmother did with her children after the long North Dakota winter. I will take her by the hand and find first things.  I’m betting on pig weed and purslane, dandelion and mint and parsley that will already be growing and she will learn what they are. Then we’ll go in the house and put these things in a bowl of water and in another bowl I will sprinkle a little salt, add olive oil and some tarragon vinegar or lemon juice, whisking it all with a fork until it has a substantial appearance. At this point I will add some store lettuce, because I won’t have any yet. This salad will be so delicious that family members are likely to start asking for “weed” salad every day. That is why it is called Perpetual Salad

And from that day on, throughout the summer we will have this salad every day, and everyday it will be the same and every day it will be just a little bit different, as it is when we add the new peas. the green onions, the tiny zucchini, all the way to new potatoes, cherry tomatoes.

That’s what I’m thinking about, but I’m afraid I won’t have my way for a little while. I just heard that we will have a nor’ easter on Friday and I am just going to have to face it, as one of nature’s mean tricks. Does anybody out think it’s just her way of having a good time?

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About dorothybloom

Well, I'm a bit on the elderly side , but I'm fighting the decline with my entry into the virtual world. I've been thinking for while that my situation is worth talking a, and for this reason. There is a tension between old and new. The old are intent upon keeping their authority and the young are intent on getting it for themselves. hereThis tension is as old as the Neanderthal and many of his four-legged cousins. And I want to explore that.
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2 Responses to Patience

  1. Alexa says:

    I’m just waiting for the day I see a salad stand alongside the old lemonade stand.

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