The Spiritual Gardener: The End of Winter, Finally
Travel can be treacherous at this time of year, and airport closings and road delays maddening. Even so, since I can’t really get my hands dirty in the garden, I don’t mind a bit of business travel, especially if it lends itself to a stopover in the West. Last week I traveled to Seattle, Portland and Denver on business. In Portland, I woke up on East Coast time, much too early, so I made some strong coffee in my room and quietly sketched out a design for a patio extension we have been thinking about. It’s funny how the mind of the gardener can pore over every inch of the garden and its distinctive features, even when 3,000 miles away.
Then on to Colorado where, after my business meetings were over, I went skiing for a day and then took an extra day to drive to Moab in Utah for some redrock hiking and climbing. I badly needed to get some western topography imprinted on my retinas. In western Colorado, the peach orchards were all blushing furiously with the rising sap of spring and getting their annual pruning. My Colorado wildlife sightings included three small herds of white tail deer, a big glossy coyote, a Colorado bighorn sheep (near Georgetown, of course) and two spectacular bald eagles wintering over in De Becque Canyon.
The redrock country of eastern Utah and northern Arizona (pictured above) has always exercised a powerful pull over me, as it does to everyone who feels an affinity for this stupendous landscape.
Returning home, I find the absurd and excessive winter cold persists. We had an icicle hanging off of an eave on the north side of the house; it was about eight feet long, and hung all the way down to the ground floor kitchen window, which was quite amazing. Icicles are a very beautiful aspect of winter, but of course the reason they are hanging on your house is that you are leaking heat like mad from a poorly insulated house and probably also have roof and gutter drainage problems that you should take care of, so they are not exactly something a fastidious homeowner should be happy to see.
But there you are, they are beautiful all the same. Beauty is often associated with trouble, as countless people have noticed to their chagrin through the ages, but I can’t really tell you more about that than the troubadour Ricky Martin already did in “Livin’ La Vida Loca”.
And speaking of troubadours, last night it snowed heavily again and our son and his friend built a huge fire in the firepit, then got their guitars out and were playing and singing in the blizzard at the foot of the garden, by the blazing fire. Boys are so wonderfully odd.
I was at the hardware store last weekend and saw they had beautiful white lilies (“Casa Blanca”) for sale so, despite my decided lack of success with lilies I decided to try again. The only really successful ones I have ever had were here before we bought the place and I am pretty sure our highly efficient rabbits finally got them last year. I bought the Casa Blancas and am raising them first in pots this spring, at least until they get far enough along to be put out in the cruel garden, to try their luck in life. Parenting runs on very similar principles, and it is never easy either. As for the white lilies, how great it would be to have armfuls of these stunning creatures, as in my imagination of course I already do.
In birding news, while walking Cosimo around the golf course, I heard an owl hoot in a neighbor’s yard at 3 p.m., surprisingly, and saw the first blue jay of the year. And during the heavy snowfall last week, I watched hundreds of robins feasting in the holly tree and flying to the gutter for sips of water, each one leaving a tiny puff of snow as it exploded out of the holly. What a show, I watched for ages!
These robins continue to feast on the rapidly dwindling bounty of the holly berries, trying to eke out a living in late winter until the proteinaceous earthworms are available again, which they soon will be. One of the joys of not using chemicals in the garden is that earthworm populations rapidly explode, doing many good things for the garden and rejoicing the local bird population. It’s all good.
Indoors, we are making brunch more interesting and after lots of experimentation with adapting pasta for the breakfast table, we have come up with this easy and delicious dish that we call simply Bacon and Egg Pasta. Add a peach Bellini and it’s a party!
16 strips good quality bacon
½ medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
30-40 cherry or grape tomatoes
¾ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano