Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Planting season

Yes, the planting can start any time that it is not raining, and in this part of the world it could mean an hour today, a half day next week. So, after collecting my tools and examining my beds left almost fallow, (except for those lettuces and beets I collected) I have the big task of deciding what and where to plant.

I've been rotating the planting of legumes so I'm pretty sure that the soil is ready for the new season. It is pretty cool here most of summer, even though the black covering warms up the soil a bit, so, I cannot dream of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Not here. But I can plant peas from now until September and if careful, I can get a constant crop of lettuces and other greens. Legumes do well, favas, beans and all kinds of peas. Broccoli and cowliflower have a short season.

I will start with lettuces, arugulas and sets of onions. If I get garlic and potatoes sprouting, I will separate and plant these as well. Between plantings, I will begin to weed, a process that will never stop. Thank God for the black coverings, expensive to purchase the first year, but they last for years.

Last year I almost bought a freezer for all the extra peas and green beans I harvested. By September, we can't stand the taste of anything I pluck from the garden. Something about all that abundance dulls the taste buds. Thank God my friends do not get tired of all those good things.

Now, if I only had friends who grew too many tomatoes, eggplants and peppers willing to trade for beans and lettuces. I would be living in a perfect world.

In our corner of the world, the end of rainy season corresponds to garden season. At this time everybody is busy outdoors, nobody emails anybody, and all clubs take a hiatus. Time to garden, time to enjoy long days and sun in abbondance, time even for us coastal gardeners to dream of jungle flowers and tropical drinks on the patio.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Gardening in the rain

I started out walking in the rain, but ended up in the garden, curious about the outcropping. But, there they were, baby turnips, spinach, lettuces, beets and carrots. From my deck I had spied the shoots, the greenery neatly lined up from under the black covers. Then, I remembered how I had planted at the end of the season, experimenting with a winter crop.

The area has always ended up under water until the end of April; but with a new outflow system built by the state to control the lake water level, my garden area could have a chance this year. Except, with the 100+ inches of rain a year, nobody goes out and faddles out in the yard until late spring.

The lettuces, small, crunchy and still very intense in flavor became the first pick. By the time I finished pulling them up, I noticed beets and turnip shoots among the outcropping, begging to be pulled too. Some were too small, and got replanted. But the rest joined the lettuces. These are not veggies sold in stores.

Today, they will be blanched, sauteed and dressed. Spring never came this early before.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Oregon Coast

With the Pacific Ocean on my right, I drove down to Gold Beach to be on a jury, this week, traveling on a winding road that slows down to twenty miles per hour even on a good day. Whatever was on my mind disappeared as surf, sand, stacks, and mountains came in and out of sight, as the land curved, dropped and jutted out. This stretch of the coast from Port Orford to Brookings is God's country. It is the reason we moved here from California.

More than once, I pulled over, allowing others to pass me, while I breathed deeply and marvelled at the way each mile surprises the senses. The surf was high and few boats were on the water.

The fisherman who was on the jury with us talked about how difficult it is to make a good living as a commercial fisherman these days. A young woman had to line up four different people to take care of her sick child. An entire company shut down because the key people had been called to serve on the jury.

One learns how the rest of the world lives, how our lives are both similar and different. What we all shouted about? How beautiful Oregon is and how lucky we are in this corner of Paradise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Keeping healthy

Everybody I know has the flu, is getting over the flu, or is trying to avoid the flu. Curiously, younger folks are the ones with the first onset of symptoms. When the older ones begin to ache, it is time to shut ourselves in and hope this too will pass. Everytime I am at a meeting or a doctor's office (Yes,we have more doctor's visits than any other committment!)I am careful about my contacts, watching that my hands do not go to my mouth or my eyes. Silly me. Germs are airborne and can take their shot at anyone at any time.

So, I am keeping active, but who knows for how long. It's good to know that people still write blogs while fighting the flu. (My friend on She is just as witty, maybe even more so as she studies the details of her predicament. Her daily postings are my cup of coffee. Thank you, matawheeze!

And to the rest of us, this too shall pass, and we will be stronger knowing a century old bug did not do us in, rather, it helped to conjure up all kinds of juices and hidden gems.

No, I am not saying we now have a muse in the flu; it is more like truffles awaiting a rooting element, a pig of a flu, to dig up and present us with such fine thoughts, flavorful truffles for the connoseurs.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Living la vita bella

Yes, the good life, in any language,contains the same elements: security, beautiful surroundings, supportive family and friends, and a resonable infrastructure. Most of these elements are products of life style, of choices made daily.

But providing appropriate infrastructure is a decision made collectively, by looking at ourselves in the present and in the future, taking responsibility for our communities' health and welfare.

Elections should bring us together to talk about how best to share responsibility. Instead, elections bring out the most deceptive and conniving skills. The aim is to win, not to communicate a collective vision of what it means to live a good life in this century, in this country, among these challenges.

The most pressing issue in America today? The answer is simple: Government should be about providing the means for people to live a good life together.