I can’t blame the garden; it has been productive and beautiful and engaging in ways I feign to describe with words. I can’t blame work; its been busy and all-encompassing and evolving, but it isn’t everything. I can’t blame the friends and family: they have been wonderful and funny and I just wish I had more time. With all of the modern day demands on our time and (in my increasingly limited) brain power, sometimes the blog just goes by the wayside. However, after meandering our little garden paths, giggling at the ridiculousness of the chickens rolling in the dirt to “clean” themselves, and blushing at the coming bounty of peaches and nectarines on our trees, I finally feel inspired to put fingers to keys. Like the new feather spears pushing up through the downy fluff of our chickens, the past few months have seen a dramatic spurt of growth. A packet of seeds I threw out during winter has magically transformed into a citadel of flowers, with buzzing denizens rushing about, collecting their sweet pollen with seemingly reckless abandon. Some mangled bulbs that my mom had given me, which I had promptly forgot about burst forth from the dirt to reveal swirls of color and beauty. And our herb beds, long abandoned during the cold winter months are celebrating the return of the warmth by blooming in profession, their sweet smells inspiring future culinary delights. Anyways, as I finally pick up my computer to write, I am also aware that tomorrow morning I am shipping out for a month aboard a research vessel, destined to survey the entire California coast in search of juvenile fishes. I hear rumblings that we will have internet on board, so perhaps I will be able to continue writing while floating off-shore. In the meantime, I have plenty of flowery fodder to entertain my daydreams (well, night dreams it will have to be for we are working the night shift).
Anyways, as the new season has arrived, and nature has shown once again its resilience and capacity for growth, so it is for me that I am returning to graduate school in the fall. I am terrified. But perhaps just like a bulb, waiting in the dark for months until the conditions are juuuust right to break new ground and shine in the light, so too is my decision to go back underground, and hope that I am able to secure the nutrients and conditions required to grow. Chris and I have decided the ensuing decline in my already meager salary warrants more garden time, this time not just for fun but likely for survival. I am hoping that by the time I go back to school in the fall, I will be able to sustain myself (at least in part) from the generosity of our garden. Thank goodness we have chickens, they will likely be doing some of the heavy lifting on the calorie front 🙂 To that end, we have planted beans, onions, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, kale (which the chickens all too readily consume for themselves- at least I’ll get healthy eggs), acorn squash, zucchini, pumpkin, corn and peas. Most of these were started from seed, some of which I was able to salvage from last years harvest! Anyways, each year I take on a new “project” veggie- something I am just naturally curious about and have to see first hand to better understand. Last year, I grew garbanzo beans (gathered in the bulk bin). Turns out they are a pain to process and I didn’t end up rolling in the homemade humus like I had initially dreamed. The year before, I had the brilliance to try my hand at growing quinoa and found myself spending hours picking, husking, rinsing, rinsing and rinsing the small grains, and after months of tending and processing, I had a meager half-handful to show for my efforts. Despite my previous experiments, this year I took on a new hereto-unknown vegetative wonder: peanuts. I am not sure exactly where the inspiration came from, likely I was just munching away on a handful of salty deliciousness and started to wonder from whence they came. Unlike some of my previous experiments, peanuts were hard to find. Despite the ubiquitous nature of roasted peanuts in gas station convenience stores the town over, I failed to locate a single raw peanut. The only location I was able to find them at was a seed company based out of the South called Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. It felt slightly ridiculous to research and order what ended up being a small packet of regular looking peanuts I could have found down the street, but these ones still had life within their pods! I am not sure how they will fare in our mild climate, but despite the best efforts of every squirrel in the neighborhood to root them up from their new loamy digs, they have officially sprouted. At first it was just a couple little shoots of green, but now there are unfurled leaves and stretched out roots. I have no idea what the next sunny day will bring for these little green gems, but I am hopeful to someday be able to sit back on the porch and enjoy some home-grown p-nut butter! Anyways, I still haven’t packed for my journey tomorrow, and should probably make sure I have the essentials (its slightly more difficult than your average work trip to pick up any forgotten items at sea). Happy spring!