Sunday, August 07, 2005

The wages of smugness

I was all set to blog about my great timing: how I'd managed to plant so many of my fall crops just before a couple of days of gentle, warm rain. But then the deluge came. Water pelted down in giant drops, inch after inch, running off in great cataracts. Now I'm afraid I'll see a repeat of my first spring planting, when so many of my new seeds washed down the hill, never to be seen again.

Well, if the storm hasn't gotten them and the insects don't devour them, I'll have:


(and although I know in my heart they'll never germinate, because I always have to buy the plants, I did put in a second round of...)


Much to my surprise, the best part of the Eat Local Challenge so far has been the gardening inspiration. Learning about that bolt-resistant arugula, for instance--I needed to know that! And last night I found myself dreaming of next year's seed selections, dreamily mapping out the Future Oregon Backyard Garden on a scrap of notebook paper. I don't merely want to buy more produce from local organic farmers; I want to be one of those people. I want a beehive and a chicken coop and fruit trees and more square footage of vegetables than ever before.

But I'm here still, so with my feet firmly on the ground, I should mention that this fall's pear crop is looking heavy and healthy. The s.o. is scribbling plans for a cider press.

Eating-wise, the Eat Local Challenge has brought with it far more joys than tribulations. This morning I had some porridge with honey and a chopped peach, and it was transcendent. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed cereal so much.

I am, as I write this, baking a gratin of butternut squash. The s.o. and I tasted it partway through the cooking process--when it was nakedly steamed, with no seasoning--and we are pretty sure it's the freshest, best-tasting winter squash we've had. When I was peeling the raw squash, it gave off a delicious melon-like odor.

I am about to have a wrench thrown in my Eat Local plans. My grandmother, 94 years old and until recently quite healthy, is having more and more serious bouts with congestive heart failure. I've been warned that now would be a good time to come see her, because the opportunity might slip away. So Thursday I'm flying to Ohio to see Nana, and I don't know how long I'll be there. It all depends on a lot of things.

Just so you can think fondly of her, too, and wish her the best: Nana is not only a smart, funny, vibrant lady, but she's also the person who passed down the pie crust recipe. She taught it to my mother, and my mom taught it to me.

My mother has been following along on this blog and is excited about the Eat Local Challenge, so while I'm in Ohio I suspect I'll be eating local Ohio foods, ranging from animals my mom and stepdad have hunted to produce from nearby roadside stands and fruit farms. I will keep reporting from there.

And then I'll be back here and I promise I'll take you to a couple of the most fabulous Georgia producers you can imagine.