June 2, 2008

Mixed Blessings, Beautiful Tiny Harvest

The green side of the bouquet of Bull's Blood Beets and Dragon Blood Carrots.

Recipe: Quick and Crunchy Pickled Baby Beets and Carrots
(& Accidental Ruby Dressing for Salad Greens)
Slice your vegetables into nice even bits on put them in a heat-proof bowl. Boil some vinegar and turbino sugar, then pour it over the vegetables while it's still boiling, then cover the bowl with a plate and let the vegetables steam for at least an hour (I left mine overnight). I put them on my salad, and used the juice as dressing after adding a little almond oil!
Today I pulled the first of my precious Bull's Blood beets and Dragon's Blood carrots from the loose and most perfect soil of my little community garden plot. Tiny, so tiny, and now bathing in an Icelandic bath of vinegar and turbino sugar, overnight, to be added to the salad I'll take to work tomorrow, the salad of the dewicious wettuces I picked from thence as well. And a little savory. And the orange California poppies look hearty and lush and I hope they bloom, for they will remind me of my Mamaw, and the long driveway down the hill, and the poppies that grew there for so many years, along the southern side, on the slope, like something from Dorothy, seeding themselves almost into eternity, but not quite, and I couldn't understand Mamaw's calm when I asked her where the poppies were and she said, simply, "They're done."

I thought they were magic(al). In my mind they share a dreamscape with my other grandmother's (Nonie's) Giant Globe Alium, both tall, one orange, one purple, one related directly to the culinary (alium/onion), the other to vice and ecstasy and decline (poppy/opium). And both of them forbidden by either grandmother for picking.

Of course all this pointing to the last walk through the last house, the only house that ever was always there in our gypsy family. The walk I took yesterday through the empty and clean 1157 North Franklin after the estate sale was over, and one day before the closing of the sale of the house, walked through that center of the universe that was my mother's parents' house, now gone the way of the poppies, following them, another moment of "they're done," my grandparents' deaths a few years apart, the rapidity of the sale as my mother, who lived there with my grandfather at the end, reached to digest the death of her father whom she'd cared for every day for three years asking no thanks and getting little understanding of what she was so deeply taking responsibility for, even in her own feebleness. The burning off of karma. The giving. And it's alright. Because death is a release from the cycle that the garden justifies, and the karma needed burning off. And we all have more that is precious than we can ever count, of what they left us, what we are, what we pulled from the ground, the deeper bloodiness of the reaching toward character, just us, pulling out all that chickweed and Bermuda grass that would strangle that memory of goodness and trying to wrench from the natural goodness of our souls that which are grandfather wanted us to be -- which was what he was. And it was good.

Good bye old house. Good bye old grandparents. Hello bloody carrots and beets. I say good bye to you because you are my blood. And I plant you because someone named you: blood. May your rich and obscene dyes redden my mouth and drip down my chin and mark me forever as one who eats, well, from the earth, and knows it's good.

Bouquet of Bull's Blood Beets and Dragon Blood Carrots.

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