Tuesday, April 7, 2009

As the temperature drops to 37F I worry about its effect on my little garden. The seeds I planted outdoors in a an wheelbarrow--pak choi, mustard, bunching onions--have germinated and put out leaves the size of a ladybug. They are cold weather crops known to thrive in even lower temperatures. It is the infant fig and tender banana trees that worry me. They live out in the open, in whisky half barrels that offer them zero protection from gusting windows. Ideally, they should have been heavily mulched, but I operate a tough love garden where plants receive precious little coddling. Nevertheless, I hope against hope that these tender imports from warmer countries will survive this unusually chilly April.
As for me, I am also an import from a warmer country and I do not thrive in cold weather. For me, 37F feels positively so Siberian I must wrap myself in woollen shawls and feather comforters if I am to survive at all. Good hot chocolate helps keep hipothermia at bay and so do the comfort foods of the tropics. Piping hot black beans spiced with cilantro, garlic and onions, served over rice with orange salad or bananas as a side dish, are very good for the morale. So are Persian dishes perfumed with saffron and seasoned with sumac, Spanish stews and rich French soups. This is no time for delicate cups of consomme unless it contains generous dollops of cream and sizable splashes of cherry. It helps to read about warmer climates, too. Camilleri's mysteries, which are set in Sicily are rough and brawny and their main character, Inspector Montalbano is as coarse as new grappa and just as welcome when the thermometer drops.

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