Basking In Beauty

It’s back to school time for some, but for me, it’s finally time to live outdoors. All of a sudden, the things we were missing all summer long have burst into bloom, even though some are out of synch with the Earth’s rotational space-time demands. Sweet peas in September, that’s not usual. I bury my face in them and sigh anyway.

Also unusual is the fact that this one Swiss chard plant, as well as several lettuces, have been feeding us since early Spring, never letting up, because there’s been no sun until now to tell them it’s time for a break.

My sole tomato plant has managed to produce two, one more than I expected, ripe tomatoes that actually taste pretty decent, not as insipid as cool-weather tomatoes can be. We’re supposed to be having a heat wave next week, and maybe we’ll even get a third tomato, which would be a thrill. Yesterday we grilled cheeseburgers for lunch and ate them with our firstborn tomato. There’s something that feels deliciously decadent about grilling at lunchtime, when other people are at work, but even that illicit pleasure couldn’t outweigh the joy of having actually produced a tomato. Those of you who live where ripe, sweet tomatoes are a regular summer feature don’t know how lucky you are.

Heat wave, such a delightful phrase to those of us in the chilly north. But it won’t be enough to help these eggplants, which even though I chose the plant because it’s makes little Japanese fruits, has only now started blooming. I might as well snip those flowers and put them in a vase as hope for something actually edible to ensue, but they’re beautiful anyway, and I’ll take that.

Since I can’t grow much at home, the farmers’ market is our mainstay, and it’s happily stocked this year with almost everything I need from the vegetable kingdom.

Shel has discovered the joys of cooking over fire, which used to be exclusively my domain. and now he fusses over the coals possessively while I prepare mountains of luminous vegetables to add to our almost daily meat-grilling extravaganza.

And for the first time this year our little market offers island-grown tomatillos and poblanos, an irresistible invitation to salsa.

The only indications of impending autumn are the denuded state of the blueberry bushes and the crabapple tree. I’m leaving the last berries for the birds who need to fuel their upcoming migration

although it’s the crows who devour the crabapples, so sour, so hard, and as they don’t go away for the winter, it must be for pure enjoyment that they stuff themselves with the fruit.

We’ll be flying away like the birds ourselves, in just another month, so for now we too are stuffing ourselves with summer on the island, loving everything about it, while it lasts.

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9 Comments on “Basking In Beauty”

  1. Zuleme Says:

    I have tomatoes like crazy this summer and wish I could share them with you. I have made, soup, sauce, ketchup and dried tomatoes and the freezer is full. Next come the apples. We just discovered that the bears got the grapes last night.

  2. Dick Lunde Says:

    We’re in a suburb north of Chicago, and we’ve had a spring and summer of mixed weather, but lots of rain (an ordinary year’s worth already). My four tomato plants (on our deck over the patio, the only place with even half-decent sun) started out well. But after an initial flurry of blossoms, they stopped blooming until just a couple of weeks ago. I’ve only gotten about half a dozen tomatoes so far, mostly pretty small, and there are maybe another six in various stages of ripening. Fortunately there have been some good tomatoes at our local farmer’s market. Now the tomatoes are blooming well, the way they should have been in May and early June, and setting fruit. If warmish weather holds long enough, I may get at least a few decent-sized green tomatoes before frost.

    We’ve got four crabapple trees around our townhouse, and the squirrels and chipmunks are feasting like there’s no tomorrow. It’s funny to see a chipmunk hop by with an apple almost as big as it’s head in its mouth. Looks almost like it’s ready to be roasted, but the chipmunk probably wouldn’t find that funny at all.

  3. Abra Bennett Says:

    Bears, yikes! It’s bad enough that we have coyotes here.

  4. Sue Geisler Says:

    It’s been a sad tomato year here in the Sonoma Valley. I have lots of vines – almost no fruit and what I’ve gotten are small ones with not much flavor.
    I’ve bought from the market to make my “sauce” for the winter and it’s now frozen and waiting. I have more Basil and other herbs than one person is entitled to…Not as many bees as usual – it may be the tomato’s problem.
    The cruise sounds wonderful – interesting countries -and France is waiting. Enjoy!

  5. Gigi Petery Says:

    My tomatoes have just started ripening in the last two weeks or so, thank goodness. We enjoyed our first Caprese salad of the year just a couple days ago. I’m amazed I still have sugar snap peas and green beans. And I’ve started a fall crop of lettuce which is just about ready for me to start harvesting leaves. There are some upsides to this odd summer.


  6. If it’s any consolation, here in southern Connecticut we have had few really ripe tomatoes (except grapes and cherries) this year either. Our farmer complained that she had a biblical year: drought, flood, hurricane. We did have a hot wave, but too early, and now we’re having cool dreary rain and the tomatoes are shivering on the vines. Don’t think we can count on an Indian Summer this year.

    Have a lovely time in France. I love your letters from there.

  7. Mike Says:

    I love your pictures! Thank you for bringing your garden and recipes to my desktop.
    My partner and I (who live in Bellingham) are going on the same cruise, leaving Barcelona on the 16th, that you are planning. Looking forward the adventure AND the relaxation. I found you on Cruise Critic. Will write more in the coming days.
    -Mike

  8. Abra Bennett Says:

    Mike – too bad we won’t be on the same cruise, we’re returning on the 16th. I don’t know whether you should follow our adventures on the cruise or not, might be a spoiler for you!


  9. I frequently recommend growing leafy greens such as Swiss Chard because they are so nutritious, delicious, and easy to grow.


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