Labor Of Love

28 Aug

Summer is almost over, and for me, it’s going out with a sniffle.

I managed to catch some crummy summer cold, probably not helped out by the insane pace I kept up while up at the house last weekend. I arrived and immediately plunged into planting a variety of leafy greens from Silver Heights Farm in the one reclaimed garden bed.

I planted butterhead lettuce, merlot lettuce, arugula, olive arugula, lacinato kale, tuscan kale (I’m not sure what the difference is either) and rainbow lacinato kale. I’ve been watching the weather obsessively online and it looks like it’s been really dry up there all week. I hope they survive.

And then after running some errands and hitting some farm stands I was home and the sun was starting to set and I was alone. It was daunting. I couldn’t figure out what to do next. So I walked over to the radio and flipped it on. And, what do you know. Out came the opening strains of my very favorite piece of classical music ever; Dvorak‘s ‘New World Symphony.’ As soon as I heard that watery, calming opening line of the largo movement, baaa dum dum, baaah dee dum… I knew everything was going to be alright.

The corn (from Samascott’s) was spectactular. Seriously, it’s a good thing Obama wasn’t trying to pick me to be his veep, because if video of what I did to that corn ever got out… I also made a quick fresh tomato sauce out of three humongous Brandywine’s I picked up from a stand off the Milan exit of the Taconic (I also got a beautiful braid of the most delicious garlic for $7) and Luisa’s version of Heston Blumenthal‘s broccoli.

It was a good meal, but aside from the corn, not earth shattering. But, the leftovers have kept me fed all week, which is a good thing. And I enjoyed cooking it on my electric stove. I never thought I’d fall for an electric stove, after the early, formative and not-so-positive experiences with the one in the house I grew up in. But this one? It’s delightful! It does what I ask it to. Has real highs and lows, and since it’s one of those flat-top ones, cleans up a dream. I never knew electric stoves could be so wonderful.

Sunday morning I went for a run, scared my neighbor’s horse, had a wonderful breakfast in town and then went to the nursery. I can predict that nurseries are going to be my new kitchen stores. I only went in to look; to judge how much Japanese maple trees cost (turns out, a lot), but, I walked out with a bag of compost and a score of plants. Sigh. I am not to be trusted.

So rather than spending my day poking about in used book stores and snooping around yard sales, I nearly broke myself planting plants. A lavender for Isaac and some foliage for me (I’ve developed a very unhealthy obsession with hostas). After a warm shower and a clean sweep of the house, Oliver and I found ourselves barreling down the Taconic once again. It was too short.

But we made it home in time for Mad Men, which, seriously, is all that matters on a Sunday night. And so, tomorrow Isaac is back! We’ll spend three days in the country, puttering and planting and going to the County Fair. I can’t wait.

I hope you all enjoy your last weekend of summer, hopefully sniffle free.


12 Responses to “Labor Of Love”

  1. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) August 28, 2008 at 8:56 am #

    This makes me smile — especially the photos of your infant garden, so full of promise for the days of gardening pleasure to come.

  2. Mary Coleman August 28, 2008 at 10:59 am #

    Looks so beautiful.
    Re Japanese Maples. If there is a Lowes up there, check them out. We got a beautiful Japanese Maple, which we are training to grow in the right manner, for 20 bucks in May. Seriously.
    We’ve been looking at them for years and this was just a fabulous find.
    Have a great weekend!

  3. EB August 28, 2008 at 5:11 pm #

    Sorry you’re sick! But the garden looks like it’s very much worth a case of the sniffles.

  4. Christina August 28, 2008 at 9:10 pm #

    Oh, it sounds so exciting and happy and wonderful to be able to spend a weekend doing exactly what you want to be doing, sick or not. I’m very, very happy that you have found such a perfect place.

    Still no news on my news–we’ve encountered some major hiccups–but keep your fingers crossed for us; we’ve got a good chance of pulling through.

  5. Julie August 28, 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    Nurseries and garden catalogs (and seed catalogs) are my un-doing. Completely seductive. And I hear you on the hostas.

    Sounds like you had a great weekend at the new house, despite your summer cold.

  6. ann August 30, 2008 at 6:20 am #

    Lydia — I know! I can’t wait to get up there and see how they fared!

    Mary — What a wonderful tip! I’ll be looking into it this weekend.

    EB — It was, oh it was. Now if only I could figure out how to stop hurting my back….

    Christina — It’s very hard to type when ones fingers are as crossed as mine! Please keep me posted.

    Julie — So seductive. I can’t wait for those long winter nights and the scheming and the dreaming.

  7. Marie August 30, 2008 at 5:58 pm #

    Ann, about a Japanese maple: it’s all relative, but email me if you like. Maybe I can help.

    Sweet little collection of shade perennials you have there. I love Solomon’s Seal and I love its long name: Polygonatum odoratum “Variegatum”. If you lie upside down under them in the spring you can smell the odoratum part: delicious.

  8. WillB September 1, 2008 at 7:12 pm #

    Re the back problem in the garden – try a pair of carpenters’ knee protectors – those ugly/wonderful things they use when putting down floors – much easier to kneel with!

  9. Toni September 3, 2008 at 5:52 pm #

    I love your photos, and I love your necessity to buy plants! I soooo get that one! Unfortunately, I can’t do that very much anymore for my New Mexico house. I’ve got plants that are established there and seem to be surviving – thanks mostly to the most wonderful woman tenant that I’ve got. But otherwise – no can do. I’m not there often enough.

    I just got back from a visit and spent about 4 hours weeding so that I could get to the clothesline. Between finishing painting the inside of the house, weeding, sorting out the wood pile, and going for long drives – I’m exhausted and happy. It’s what the country will do to you, if you’re lucky!

  10. ann September 4, 2008 at 5:38 am #

    Marie — Thanks! I’ll do some research first, but the offer is very kind. I’ll have to do that with the Solomon’s Seal, I had no idea. I’m hoping they (the shade perennials) do well. I really had to jam them in there due to a collection of birch tree roots I hadn’t bargained on. The hosta is looking a little haggard… I’m incredibly partial to the Jack Frost. My mom says its a Siberian Violet hybrid or something, but I just love its metallic, crackled-pottery-glaze leaves. I’m in love.

    WillB — I think you’re the third person to recommend those things, so yeah, I think three’s the charm. I’ll have to hunt one down this weekend. Thanks.

    Toni — That’s too bad about the plants, but maybe that’s why you’re such a prolific (and fantastic!) bread baker :-)

  11. shelley September 7, 2008 at 3:26 pm #

    Planting a new garden is so much fun! In 5 years, it will be your own little magical kingdom.

  12. Kaz September 7, 2008 at 9:10 pm #

    Hi Ann,

    Those pics of yours are lovely and inspires me to get started with my own kitchen garden plans. September is early spring Down Under as the seasons are reversed. I’ve got some garden beds in the front of our house with a great sunny location and I’m itching to get some tomatoes in the ground. I want to try those old fashioned heritage varieties and some really sweet cherry tomatoes for the kids. I remember how much fun I had picking fruit off the tree as a kid. When we lived in Florida I raided loquat and mulberry trees from our neighbors and for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why they left them untouched.

    I’d like to try planting some blueberry bushes around our place, but I suspect it will be a real battle to keep the birds and possums at bay. We found a pick-your-own blueberry farm north of Sydney while on summer holidays a few years ago and the bushes were loaded with fruit, so I know they’ll flourish up here in the mountains.

    You might be interested to look at this site about farms near my home in the Hawkesbury. There’s some good things going on there.

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