8.2.12 No Place Like Home

Back path 790 xxx
photos by george billard
As much as I love to travel the world, the journey home will always be my favorite. I spent several long hours in the Atlanta airport yesterday, waiting for my delayed flight back to Newark, surrounded by squalling babies, lurid fluorescent lighting, enormously fat people talking much too loudly on their cell phones and a general air of fetid unhealthiness. When it became clear that a real dinner was not in my future, I sidled hopefully up to the nearest Wolfgang Puck Express where I was met with the world's saddest array. Dessicated "baby" carrots, the desperate orange of Guantánamo jumpsuits, huddled in fogged plastic containers alongside clammy cubes of cheese and a few shriveled grapes. Spago it was not. I ultimately gnashed my way through a heap of watery romaine with a lumpy feta vinaigrette and longed for the green, green grass of home. Once aboard the plane, there was a moment of glory: as lightning shot repeatedly through a layer of meringue clouds, we soared high above into a crystalline night sky illuminated by an enormous silver moon. And then the pregnant lady in front of me farted. 

When I arrived home past two in the morning and emerged from the frigid yet stale air of the town car, I inhaled the cool country sweetness and was instantly restored. The wild honeysuckle brushed lovingly against me as I made my way up the front path. Moths slam-danced into the yellow porch light. I crawled into my bed between two biscuit-warm bodies and fell asleep to the rhythmic buzz of the night creatures.
Front garden 790 xxx
wild honeysuckle gone wild
Although I was only gone for two days, the garden seems to have had yet another growth spurt. Amazing what the right amounts of sun and rain (and TLC) can do. The new raised beds that G built on our front lawn are bursting with tomatoes and cucumbers.
Tomatoes 790 xxx
the roma
Our little micro-climate seems to be considerably cooler than even the next town over. We have yet to pick any tomatoes, and the eggplants have still not begun producing, but things are coming along.
Cherry tomatoes 790 xxx
green thumb
Kirby 790 xxx
warts and all (this is a kirby)
I make a jar of brine and leave it in the fridge so that whenever a new cornichon comes off the vine it can get plopped right in there. Our first jar is already full. They make a great snack on their own or go well with everything from cheese to fried chicken.
Back garden 790 xxx
growth spurt
The bee balm is past its prime but I cannot bear to cut down those red blooms, ragged but still attractive to hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Tomatillos, kale, rhubarb and squash are all going strong.
Chard 790 xxx
green day
The chard has had a great year, and you can see our few ears of corn starting to come in behind. I wonder if the chipmunks will get it before we do.
Hyssop 790 xxx
bee magnet
There were startlingly few bees this summer, but now that the anise hyssop has bloomed they have arrived in greater numbers. They also adore the wild mint flowers and can often be found dozing on them in the early morning. I love to engage in a little cautious bee-petting before they wake up. Anise hyssop has a lovely sweet licorice flavor that complements iced tea and is nice infused into a simple syrup for cocktails and refreshing elixirs.
Okra 790 xxx
pod people
Every year we put in a little okra, mostly to enjoy the beautiful flowers. If you think of this versatile vegetable as slimy, you must try it lightly dredged in cornmeal and blistered in a cast-iron skillet or flash-fried with Indian spices. I also adore it pickled. One of my summer favorites.
Beetles 790 xxx
In case you think the garden is an innocent paradise, meet my nemesis: the Japanese beetle. All they do is eat leaves down to a fine filigree and fuck, often at the same time. Would you think less of me to know that I can crush their iridescent lacquered shells with my bare fingers? When it comes to my garden, I am quite the fierce mama lion. Just doing my bit for homeland security.


Your garden is amazing!! I am so inspired. I am getting ready to actually write a post on starting a fall garden. If you would like to contribute any tips let me know!
Ali from Daughter-in-Law Diaries on August 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm —
A fall garden—that's an interesting time to start! Lots of kale and cabbage?
laura on August 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm —
The peace of coming home is so wonderful after running an airport gauntlet. Love your garden!
The Wimpy Vegetarian on August 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm —
here is what you need for those beetles, to save your manicure: a chicken! they eat them by the pound. hard to feature how that can be delicious (I think, in their place, I would prefer a nice meaty worm), but they are the treat of choice. love all the garden porn here!
janet on August 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm —
I really wish we could have chickens, Janet, but we have two strikes against us: a tiny half-acre property and a penchant for travel (and no neighbors to take over). I'm hoping that when we move to our lake property we can figure it out...
laura on August 3, 2012 at 6:46 am —
Beautiful pictures, great writing and I'm envious. Wish we had a garden. So far some cactii on the window ledge of our apartment, and I grew up with huge, shady gardens in India. (Well, full disclosure, also 3 full time gardeners.)
amin Ahmad on September 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm —
Amin, what about your roof?
laura on September 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm —