BOTTLED

  • "Beauty is the secret sound of the deepest thereness of things." John O'Donohue

Monday, August 30, 2010

PEACHES

Fresh from the tree awaiting toast with cream cheese for breakfast
I love peaches!

Peaches grow almost effortlessly and a tree starts producing quickly.  (Not to mention they attract birds - and other things - all of which I am not sure if I love or not.)

a variety of fruit wood prunings 
In the dead of winter if you prune fruit trees and put the cuttings in water the cuttings will bloom.

 I swear it is true.

I make a bouquet of sticks every winter.

 I call it my
 'miracle of the sticks'.






(I look at them and feel a bit foolish - I am not sure why ... )






They always bloom - but what if ...















Try it - it is amazing to see the buds pop out of those dry sticks.

Naking Cherry branches - always prolific and usually first open
It will take more or less time depending on when they are cut and what kind of fruit the cutting is pruned from.

If they are pruned nearer to spring they bloom sooner than if they are pruned earlier - peaches open readily.



 Really - just put them in water, like a bouquet,  and wait.

Peach buds are gloriously bright pink and as leaves creep almost unnoticed into the cool of spring ...

the buds open slowly at first, held back by the cold

but then the tree is suddenly in full flower with buds and blooms everywhere - until many of them  succumb to frost biting just before dawn in many late springs.

Peaches start out as funny elongated furry silver balls that get bigger

and bigger


and bigger

and as they get fuller and rounder

they stay very green all summer

even when they start to show some red under the fuzz.

Nevertheless the narrow leaves and plump fruit are pleasing to just look at - and anticipate.

 There is no hurrying peaches.

Whenever I remember how wonderful they are to eat I weed and water and dig about the tree and surrounding garden.

And as I walk past I pat the tree on the trunk or a branch or pet a nearby cheek of fuzz (carefully, lest an earwig is lurking along a crevice or in a leaf - yikes!!).

I admit I look to see if the peaches are coloring and I feel the heaviness that draws the branches into my reach.


I know to look for a ripe one when the morning bird choir and twittering swooping and hopping among the leaves becomes almost constant.

It is then a contest.  Who will win the battle of the peaches?

This year it was pretty much a dead heat - but they were cheating  - they started eating green, hard fruit -
and complaining did not stop them;
neither did shouting at them or waving my arms.

I suppose I am still greedy - at least about peaches. I even told Cynthia that the naughty birds were eating her peaches and encouraged her to run and shout, "MINE," at them.

I suppose I am still learning to share.

PRESERVED

Here are the 14 pints of peaches my husband and I managed to preserve from the birds.

We also managed to put some peach chunks into the freezer and another tray went directly down the hatch!

They are working on our apples now - birds AND wasps!

Pesky critters those! We are finding whole apple skins hollowed out completely and still hanging on the tree with the core intact inside.  Occasionally an apple like that will be zzzzzzzinnnzggg like crazy and inside it will have dozens and dozens of wasps in a frenzy.

I would try to get a picture but I stay as far away as I can - I am allergic to apples and wasps - frankly Scarlett, I don't .... uhm .... really care if the birds or wasps eat the apples - except of course that there are those that do care, and I care that they care!

Maybe they will take an interesting picture.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FEASTING

This is for the birds! Do you have cheese to go with this whine?

Our peaches are luscious this week.  You don’t eat them, by the way, you pick a ripe one from the tree and ‘drink’ it right there on the spot – honest – you don’t even have to chew, a few slurps and it disappears.

I am a bit frustrated when many of the ripe ones David brings into the house have been pecked at and partially eaten by birds. I use my half for cobbler or other treats and throw the leftovers into the compost pit.  Why is it that I don’t see any birds quarreling with each other to eat the ones on the ground over the fence or the pieces in the pit? 

Today I watched 2 woodpeckers, several robins, a dozen starlings and countless finches or sparrows fluttering around the trees and vines.  They are quite audacious. Even when a person stands under the tree the birds just fly up out of reach or onto a close fence.

The finches are the same naughty redheads that were plucking my apricot blooms last spring. I suppose they were tasting the nectar at the flower’s base but they seemed just bent on a search and destroy mission. 
 
A robin boldly hopped along, completely ignoring randomly thrown pebbles, under the grapes enjoying bugs and grapes – they aren’t even ready yet! And it hardly bothered to move away when someone walked by. I see that almost red tomatoes hanging near the ground are also partly eaten.  I didn’t see the robins do that but I do know they LOVE red fruit!

Some of the green peaches have also been pecked. I can understand the ripe ones but I was surprised to see that.  This morning I saw the woodpeckers – 2 of them – larger than robins with brilliant orange red tails and markings. They checked out every tree and bush here and at the neighbors.  I noticed they were even feasting on the green apples! That is way past audacious. 

I might not mind sharing if they ate the same fruit each time but, like a child unsupervised at a buffet with a finger licked here and a bite there, they peck here and eat there – here a little, there a little, everywhere a little bitty! Nasty birds! But I like birds. 

I plant sunflowers just for birds, and flowers etc with them in mind – not the meanies like the starlings - but I haven’t even been irritated by the greedy sparrows or messy flycatchers.

C’est le vie! I guess I don’t really feel up to canning yet anyway.  I might just as well share.

Come on over.  You and I will have a feast of whatever the birds don’t get first!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BECKY

Today is my sister’s birthday. A birthday is a magic day. It is the day she began life on earth. 

Happy, Happy Birthday, Becky dear
– may happiness come to you all year.
If I had one wish then it would be
A happy, happy birthday to you from me!    Children's Songbook

Each of us have a birth day – the day we were born on.

 I remember the first birth I ever saw – a lamb. I was about 14 or 15.  I was walking casually through a herd of sheep that spring day and saw a ewe strain and then drop the pile of … it looked like part of the insides of an animal being butchered.  I knew it was likely a lamb but wondered if something was wrong – for a part of a second nothing moved – then I recognized a small whitish hoof and then that moved.  Suddenly an ear flapped and with thrashing and the mother’s nudging a lamb flopped free of the birthing membranes; a real live, honest to goodness lamb – alive, bleating and very soon standing on its own.

What a wonder to witness.

Each birth is – a wonder, a miracle.

Each person is an awe inspiring, breath taking wonder. You are. I am.

I kind of tear up every time I see or hold a tiny newborn – newborn anything. 

Thanks mom for giving me life.  Thanks for this stupendous, incredible gift –  a birth day.

And to Becky and everyone else Happy Birth Day – even if it isn’t today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

GREEN SUMMER STIR-FRY (ZUCCHINI)

 A little something to experiment with in the kitchen
-might serve 2 or 3 vegetable lovers.

read first

Mince 1 or 2 small cloves fresh garlic.

Chop 2 small or 1 medium fresh onion(s) include tops if fresh and green (or add chives)

Chop (slice) freshly picked green beans diagonally (or French cut) to expose swathes of tender insides – about 1 cup. Yellow wax beans are also nice in this mix.  

1 medium freshly picked zucchini no larger than 2-3”in diameter quartered and sliced – about 2 cups. Very small squash may be simply sliced into 'coins'. Smaller tender summer squash may be substituted.

Lemon Pepper

Snip fresh dill fronds with kitchen scissors directly into pan near end of cooking

1 Tbsp butter (or olive oil)

Parmesan Cheese optional

Pick and prepare vegetables. This can take all morning if you pull a few weeds and eat some fresh peas or apricots/plums in the shade.

Be sure to dig a hill of new potatoes to zap and enjoy with your greens. 

Prep time from start of cooking until eating – minutes. Be sure to prick the new potatoes and toss them into the microwave before starting the following:

Do not let any of the ingredients brown or scorch - or become mushy.  
Turn down your heat if necessary.

Melt butter in heavy cast iron pan.  Add garlic and onion.

Stir constantly. As soon as vegetables get 'sizzle hot' and nicely coated with butter add green beans.

As pan regains heat and beans begin to sizzle (still stirring and tossing) add zucchini slices.

Continue to stir/shake until pan again sizzles and zucchini is well coated and warming up. 

Sprinkle with Lemon Pepper to taste – perhaps ¼ - ½ tsp

Then snip dill fronds (about 1 Tbsp total) directly onto vegetables – to taste – be liberal.

 Be sure to continue to keep veggies moving to prevent browning

As zucchini softens the moisture from it will ‘steam’ the beans. Spill onto center of a small platter, arrange potatoes artfully at corners or sides, sprinkle lightly with fresh parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

I admit my hubby likes sour cream with this dish and we indulge liberally with grilled fish or other grilled meat in the summer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

Nursery is good preparation for the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ otherwise known as LIFE. Since most children that age (about 2 usually) are not articulate enough to tell me about their nursery experience I have to describe it from my own point of view.

If you enter the classroom and claim the nearest or nicest toy as ‘mine’ a variety of options may occur: someone may ‘share’ with you, someone may grab it back and yell/cry ‘mine’ themselves or an adult may mediate turn taking or time out of some kind. 

The first time a 2 year old announces ‘mine’ even the other young children are likely to share and give the newcomer a bit of space to adjust. After that it becomes only a matter of time until anyone that ‘greedy grabs’ constantly will find themselves in a fight – sometimes a vicious fight with scratching, kicking, punching, biting or all of the above and more.

Cynthia, my 2 year old granddaughter, attended nursery yesterday.  Suffice it to say it was not a very happy day.  She discovered that most adults uniformly expect her to share and that failure to do so has consequences.

WOW! Same thing as happens at home! Novel eh?

I am learning a lot from this 2 year old – again.  I think I learned some of these things repetitively in the past, with all of my own 6 children and several of my other grandkids.  I ponder anew my responsibility to share my place and position on the planet.

In scripture Jesus taught that the first commandment is to Love God and the second is to Love Our Neighbor As Ourselves. I have to ask myself, do I? really, do I? even the ones that rob me or punch or bite me?

After teaching the 1st and 2nd commandments Christ then instructed that ‘there is none other commandment greater than these’.

NONE? None at all?

Not much wiggle room there me thinks.  Maybe I will have to repent – again.  And you - no more greedy grabbing K? or punching or biting, K?!

Let's play nice. ;)