It’s a ridiculous sight, obliterating my feminine mystique I’m sure, as I bring out the chickens’ breakfast and open up the henhouse in my bathrobe and garden clogs. The girls bounce down from the roost and head for their veggies-and-corn breakfast, stopping for a sip of water, tipping their heads back to roll it down their throats. The dew on the grass, which tells me the soil is holding moisture, wets my bare ankles as I pass on my way back to my bubbling coffee pot. Here we live on well-water, filtered through the ground and stunningly better tasting than the city water where I lived before, and that makes my coffee better.
The morning ahead includes walking the dogs around the back field, where the winter run-off water has finally sunk into the soil and filtered away the muck and micro-life as it went and is finally allowing wildflowers to surface. Across the field, I can see the duck pond formed by winter overflow from the arroyo in the neighbor’s pasture, and I hope the ducks don’t get comfortable and nest there, only to see the water disappear. The beekeeper has brought his hives for their annual visit, but soon it will be too hot and dry here, and he’ll take them to the muggy woods of Oregon.
Tilling or even using a broadfork to turn the soil is suddenly possible again, and I will soon have to set up drip irrigation, laying out hundreds of yards of flat tubes and planting young plants alongside them. Seedlings no longer stay at a healthy humidity as they await planting, so they need proper misting. And then perhaps we will get one more soaking rainstorm…The water all across the farm shifts from too much water in the topsoil to requiring vigilant use, and seeps from the surface down into the ground where roots will have to reach for the moisture. Though we take it for granted, water touches every part of life, every day, but this is the season of dramatic changes.
There are a number of other sea-changes happening around us these days, changing the flow of our social issues and running deeper into our consciousness. I see more women valuing each other’s company, insight and collaboration and empowering more gender-equitable leadership. I see young people repossessing their role as change agents, energetic challengers to the status quo. I see allies standing with people of color in their quest for peace and justice. I see mean old pundits losing sponsors. I see folks who have stayed away from politics, finding their voice and calling for a more compassionate approach and environmental concerns touching the most mainstream parts of the country, with, for example, heartlanders standing up to oil pipelines in defense of their aquifers. The tide is turning!
The food world is shifting too, from fat, sugar and convenience to health and freshness. Fast food chains are offering lighter fare. Supermarkets are expanding their organic offerings. Cooking skills are being taught to those who forgot them. Even in areas that are food deserts, urban farms like the Yisrael Farm in Oak Park are sprouting up and channeling community together around fresh, delicious food. Just as droplets turn into little streams that feed into rivers and larger watersheds, I hope these storm-surges of positivity turn into a tidal wave of human decency, equitability, respect and mutual support.
This is also a good time to be aware of the water in our bodies, and it is a good time to both revive our good hydration habits and check our filters, so our self-cleaning system works optimally. Any raw fruit or vegetable is a boost — celery, strawberries, crunchy greens — as are foods with a little bitterness, like artichokes.
Asian Pear and Cabbage Slaw
- 1 small head of cabbage, sliced in thin shreds
- 1 carrot shredded
- 1 large Asian pear, cut into bite size pieces (in a pinch use a crisp D’Anjou)
- 3-4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- A handful of chopped cilantro, to taste
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp chopped peanuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
Toss cabbage, carrot, onions, cilantro and pear in a bowl.
Add sesame oil, lime juice and salt and pepper – adjust to taste.
Top with chopped peanuts. (Omit peanuts in case of allergies!)
Artichokes with Green Garlic Aioli
- 1 dozen baby artichokes or 4-5 large artichokes
- Juice of a lemon
- Olive oil
- 1/4c minced green garlic
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Sprinkle of pepper
- 1 c vegan mayo
- Trim off stems, and ugly outer leaves and the tough tips of the leaves, and scoop out the thistle-like fluff if there is any, and remove any pointy tips using kitchen shears.
- Set a steamer basket in a large pot and fill with water up to the level of the basket. Squeeze the lemon juice into the water or just throw in slices and add a tbsp of salt.
- Place artichokes stem-end up in the basket. Cover the pot and steam for 25-30 minutes, until the heart is tender.
- Place the green garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and vegan in a powerful blender like a “magic bullet” and blend until smooth.
- Serve the artichokes hot and the aioli in a bowl for dipping.