I didn’t know what this was when we saw it in the garden.
The garden. I should phrase that more carefully, before those of you reading might think we are early planners with green thumbs. Today may have been warm in western Washington, but it was one of the first days of rolling down the windows as we drove around the island, music playing, the baby blinking against the breeze in her eyes. The skies have slanted grey for months, the rain coming down, hard. Even the most experienced gardeners don’t have much blooming, yet.
And we are certainly not the most experienced of gardeners. In fact, we know nothing.
I have this working theory: life keeps you humble when you try to learn something about which you know nothing, or at least very little. No matter how good you are at one activity, if you fumble and falter in the face of something new, you’re never going to walk around with a swelled head. And so I take on these little projects, a new passion that fills me and threatens to knock vigorously from the inside until I pay attention.
This spring, I want to start using film again, instead of digital in the camera. That scares me. So many blurry photos. But I love the imperfections of film, the wonky stripes, and the rich textures. Digital is starting to feel a little too shiny for my taste.
But the biggest lesson, the one I feel like I’ll be learning — and humbled by — the rest of my life? I want to learn how to garden. As Lisa wrote in this inspiring photo essay (and the conversations that followed it), “If there’s a heaven, I hope it smells like basil and dirt.”
As much as I love buying vegetables directly from the farmers, I cannot wait to pluck carrots from the black dirt and run them into the kitchen for dinner.
Of course, we don’t know what we’re doing, so there’s no guarantee there will be anything edible this year. But we’ll try.
(And if you have suggestions on how to start, fire away.)
No, the garden surrounding our house was, in part, already here. The landlords of this house we are renting lived here before us, for years. And they built raised beds, planted rose bushes and raspberry canes, pruned the giant cherry tree for its health, and created herb beds. We have volunteer strawberry plants, a fennel bush, baby apple trees, and bulbs bursting from the earth all over the yard. We are, in a word, lucky.
Still, we didn’t know what this stretching leafy green was, until we ate some. Danny reached down and plucked half a leaf, then popped it in his mouth. “Hm. A little lemony.” And then he scrunched up his face. “Peppery. Like arugula. More acidic.” We looked at each other. “Sorrel.”
(And then we googled it, to be sure.)
So we have sorrel.
Later that evening, Danny sliced some up and flash-sauteed it with a little olive oil, and some onions. The leaves melted into a dark khaki green softness. He finished the puree in the blender, and then dolloped it over the first halibut cheeks of the season. Roasted potatoes and fresh coleslaw made the meal the best one of the spring so far.
But there are more to come. And more with sorrel. Any suggestions? Let’s all help each other out.