Monday, June 15, 2009

Cherry Picking!!! and other beautiful things

The cherries started to ripen this past week. Big black heart cherries. Sweet as can be. We have a couple of trees, very very tall. Too tall to reach the top half, even when we climb on the back of the suburban.

Time to make cherry pound cake, cherry tart, brandied cherries, cherry jam and hopefully cherry wine.

I am in New Jersey right the moment. Our dear friend, King Max, graduated from the American Boychoir School yesterday. We went to the ceremony in Princeton. What a special occasion. It was held in the gothic Princeton University chapel. The stained glass took my breath away. So did the pipe organ and the magical singing of the choir. Afterward we were invited to attend a party with the other friends and family of the graduates. It took place on a farm.

When I think of a farm in the Princeton area I think of a pristine 6 and a half acres of manicured lawns, a cute little red barn with a horse, 3 sheep and 6 chickens. As we got ready to head over there I started to make my assumptions, feeling a bit insecure about our own farm, the lack of landscaping and the not lacking of real manure, broken tractor, weeds, etc. Then we pulled up to a real farm. With cattle, sheep and pigs, a bit crowded, but obviously a working farm. Producing food for their family and plenty more to sell. A tent was set up, barbecue, loads of good italian food, drinks and desserts. We celebrated the accomplishments of those sweet young graduates, visited, ate and watched the kids play. Boys who were children four years ago, now on the brink of manhood. It was great fun. I sure had to laugh at my assumptions as the smell of manure drifted over the crowd every once in a while.

Last week I reached a real point of exhaustion. Baking for another farmer's market is a real stretch for me. The garden is out of control and the rain has been non-stop. Coco ate many of my pretty flowers and I yelled at her about it the other day.

"Get out of here, Coco! Don't eat those flowers! I need to look at something beautiful."

I growled. Then I cried. So much work on important practical stuff has left little margin for pretty things.

"I used to have beautiful gardens," I cried some more and felt great self-pity.

Sometimes it seems like all I can see are the dirty dishes, the dirty clothes, the dust and the weeds.

Coming away from the farm for a very short visit is reminding me how lovely our world really is. Sharing farm stories and vision with old friends and new refreshes my spirit. It reminds me of the vision we have that sometimes we lose when we are deep in the weeds. Getting a little rest is helpful as well.

I am grateful to Philip and Thomas and Maggie and Nora for holding down the fort. I have to trust that they will also get a turn for a break very soon. In the meantime, Patrick and Rose are hiking with friends today. I had lunch with a friend and have spent time with other friends singing hymns around the piano. I hope to see something beautiful tomorrow. Maybe my old friends at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then back to the farm for more cherry picking.

I think my eyes will be so happy to see our beautiful farm and the blue mountains and the mounds of red roses at our driveway and our wonderful family. I will even be happy to get out and milk Coco. But for now, a book is calling my name.

But before I go, I have to tell you about the fresh turnips we had with supper last week. The first ones out of the garden.

I love turnips. Since it was a small bunch I figured I would get most of them since typically my family doesn't eat them at all.

I quartered them. Braised them in lots and lots of Coco's butter and garlic til they were carmelized. Sprinkled with sea salt. Set them out on the table with deer steak, greens and bread. Happy that I would get to eat them all up, all my self.

Til Rose took a bite. And Patrick. Philip,Maggie and Thomas tried them too. They liked them!

Darn. I only got a normal portion of those delectable turnips, and all of us hungry for more.

Except for Nora. She didn't try them. Thank goodness.

Should have a big mess of golden turnips ripe and waiting for us when we get back home. Should I wait and make them when Holly comes for a visit? I guess the Bible says to share... Maybe Nora can tell her how yucky they are. Everyone knows how gross turnips are. I used to boil them like potatoes, but no more. Braised in butter. Yum. Now that is a beautiful thing.


Jeff said...

Oh, that was wonderful to read! Especially the part about the turnips ... I'm not a turnip fan myself, but I guess I could be persuaded to try them sometime. I used to not like collard greens, until my neighbor fixed them with a lot of garlic and bits of potatoes. Yum!!

It's good to know that the small farm movement is spreading quite nicely - in Princeton, of all places!

What "old friends" do you wish to see at the Met? I visited a long time ago and loved the Impressionist works that they have there. The Greek and Roman stuff didn't do much for me. But the Met is HUGE! I got museum-itis pretty quickly.

I'm planning to be at the farmer's market on the 27th - are you bringing some of the cherry jam??

The lady in Red said...

cheeries...what a marvellous narrative, nice post!
Best wishes,

Holly said...

you can't fool me! sounds delicious. remember last year when you were wary of turnip greens because of bad impressions of soggy, overcooked ones, but we sauteed some and they were delicious? mmm. love food memories. said...

Hey Jeff! Hope the follow up post answered a few of your questions! I do hope to see you at the farmers market. With or without the cherry jam.

Hi Rosana! Thanks for dropping by!

Holly--glad you are here! Time to eat!

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

For years I thought I loved turnips. Turns out I was eating rutabagas (sp?). The neighbors had to inform me that my family didn't know a rutabaga from a turnip. What do you except from a bunch of city slickers?

Speaking of which, both my daughters were born in Princeton in a birthing house called Familyborn. My 26-year-old was one of their first births and my 13-year-old was one of their last births and then I heard they had to close down and start working out of the hospital because of insurance reasons. It made me sad. I had such a wonderful experience with those midwives.