Late Summer PotPourri


Working Title/Artist: At the SeasideDepartment: Am. Paintings / SculptureCulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: ca. 1892 photography by mma, Digital File DT95.tif retouched by film and media (jnc) 6_30_11


@  I’m just going to put this here and let it speak for itself:

@  Rue and Hyssop has one of the loveliest paeans to August that I have ever read.  Do your lung cells and your own reincarnations a favor and go read this.

There were days, a decade ago now when it seemed that I had more time, I would sneak away from work on a summer afternoon and steal into my friend’s parents’ yard with a book, and sit on that swing beside the small pond with the burbling waterfall. Now the pond is still and the garden is overgrown. Though the dozen birdfeeders have come down, the quarter acre is still brimming with avian life and happy bumblebees. The roses have all bloomed despite their mistress forgetting their names. The hollyhocks and foxgloves have grown tall and continue to flower, lending to the fae quality of the land that skirts the guardian tree.


Until the time that I can no longer remember why I love the rowan tree that sits at the edge of the four-way crossroads, or recall that the lake that hides a monster also holds a key and herbs from a garden two thousand miles away; until I cannot tell you why I delight in staghorn sumac or damson plums, I will continue to mark the months, the seasons, the way the light shifts and changes, the land’s many harvests, and the traveling stars.

@  Here in the magical MidAtlantic, the days since Lughnasadh have been hot and steamy (this is DC), but dry.  We could use a lot of rain, preferably day-long, gentle rain over about a week or so.  Every weekend, I begin about 10:00 and move the sprinklers every 30 minutes of so.

Set sprinkler.  Draft paragraph of a brief.  Move the sprinkler.  Throw the dark things into the laundry.  Iron two napkins.  Move the sprinkler.  Draft another paragraph.  Move the sprinkler.  Chop up squash, garlic, and onions.  Move the sprinkler.  Put the dark things in the dryer.  Draft another paragraph.  Go back and re-write the first one, based on what I’ve been thinking as I chop squash.  Saute the squash, throw in a load of lights, bring in the mail, water the plants.  Move the sprinkler.

It can take all day to water this small, less-than-a-quarter-of-an-acre lot, because there are so many thirsty big trees, not to mention the ferns and toad lilies, the camellias, the gigantic Madame Wu hostas that are as thirsty as the wisteria climbing on the shed, and the crepe myrtles that I mostly grow for how lovely their skeletons are in frigid February.

Dorothy Parker wrote:

Travel, trouble, music, art,
A kiss, a frock, a rhyme-
I never said they feed my heart,
But still they pass my time.

But my days here on this Bit of Earth feed my heart, as well.

The garlic has been harvested, cleaned, and stored for a month and now the herb/vegetable bed is full of bok choy, sage, drying lavender (I can’t convince myself to cut the blossoms off until the bees stop sampling them and the bees keep coming back for one more taste), tarragon, and pumpkin vines.  Dill is setting seed.  Around back, I’ve let the spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint blossom because, again, I’m a softie for the bees.  I cut Italian parsley every day and I’ve pinched off enough basil to make pesto nearly every week.

My cottage beds are almost done with daisies and the goldfinches showed back up this week to steal the seeds from the black-eyed susans.  I’ve missed them, so I was glad to see them back.  I still have Queen Anne’s lace and I have the tiny purple flowers of lirope (having a v. good year, this year) and, despite our best attempts to root it out, purple flowers from obedient plant.  Whenever I pick it for a bouquet, I console myself that I’m stopping it from going to seed.  Lemon balm, too, keeps showing up despite my sincere intention to root it all up.  The common purple hostas have long-since flowered, but the beautifully-scented Aphrodite hostas, with the sweet, white flowers that bring the hummingbirds, are just beginning to bloom.  I pick a new one every day for my desk.  There is a huge bed of them around back which we’ve divided, a few times, and now the new ones that we planted a few years ago, along the Western border, are blooming, too.  They’ll carry me through to the toad lilies.

@  I had company the other evening and made one of my favorite summer dishes:  crab, corn, and tomato quiche.

First, you make a pie crust.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds.  I grew up making pies with my grandma, but, somehow, when I tried to make a pie crust on my own, it kept not working out.  Here’s my advice:  spend about a year or so on a mission to learn how to make pie crusts.  It’s worth it.  I am generally not a big advocate of lots of cooking tools, but, when it comes to pie crusts, I’ve found that tools can make the difference.  I bought several different-sized pie plates.  I bought pie weights.  I bought pie-crust-bags. (These are magical things, especially if you, as I, cannot roll out a circle to save your soul.)  I bought a tiny spray bottle that adds just a teeny bit of lemon-juice-infused ice-water to the dough.   I bought a shield that covers the edge of the crust so that it won’t burn while you pre-cook the crust.  I learned to make the dry mix, make the dough.  Refrigerate.  Roll out the dough, put it in the pie plate, crimp the edges.  Refrigerate.  Cut out a circle of parchment paper and cover it with pie weights.  Bake the pie crust.  Take it out of the oven and cool it. After this, everything else is easy.

Cut the corn off the cob.  Slice some cherry tomatoes in half.  Buy backfin crab meet and shell it; don’t trust the store.  Throw all of that into the pie shell, add shredded cheddar cheese.  Mix four eggs and some half-and-half and pour this over everything.  Bake at 350 until the eggs mixture is set and everything looks golden.

All you need is a salad or watermelon and some good wine.  It’s summer.

@  Here’s my goal for this week.  What’s yours?  How does art figure into your life, spiritual practice, magic?

Picture found here.




2 responses to “Late Summer PotPourri

  1. Pie crusts! I’m terminally awful with them. For a quiche I often use masa flour moistened and patted into the pan. It makes a tamale-like crust that’s good enough that I can pretend I did it because I like it better.

  2. It took me years to make a half-decent pie crust. Finally someone told me that the instructions were serious: I really did have to refrigerate the dough for an hour before trying to roll it out. My excuse is that neither my mother nor either of my grandmothers were cooks. My mother was big on mixes, slice-and-bake cookies, and Hamburger Helper. Almost everything I know about cooking I learned out of books, but that tip about chilling the dough was a game-changer.

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