Sunday, October 25, 2009


I have been told I am a slow eater, almost derisively. I had to learn to eat slow, just like I had to learn to eat fast, to keep up with my ravenous brother. Or maybe it’s the pace of this country where fast and food are nearly inseparable. After asking my shiatsu therapist once if there was a shiatsu yoga I got an unexpected one word answer: “Chewing.”
I know I swallow way more than I chew, still I get berated for eating slowly. And still I’d like to eat even slower, even though a little guilt comes over me - like a white butterfly over the cabbages though I know they are bad I find them hard to kill because they’re beautiful, besides I also find them difficult to catch-, a guilt for holding back the other diners from moving on to dessert, a guilt for not having the rapacious nature our culture with it’s insistence on ever greater speed adores.
After returning from California where we were trying to prolong the pleasures of summer, the frost had done in the garden, blackened dahlias, glads, squash and amaranth - I was sure it was over. But now the warm rains have returned giving us a second, if rather wet, summer. The Rosa ‘Bonica’ is in bloom again. Not just a few flowers, but full trusses as pink as May. Actually the whole bush is covered with flowers.

I’ve preferred fall foliage to flowers for as long as I can remember. Is there something more masculine about it that appeals to me? Or is it that my favorite colors red, orange and gold are displayed in such quantity that it’s hard not to absolutely jubilant. Even the forsythia, which trumpeted a yellow so loud last March you couldn’t help but wake up, then fell into a rangy and somnambulant green all summer long, shows color again. Bloody maroons, coppery oranges. And it’s signature color yellow; just a reminder, or is it a promise of what’s to come?

The apples have all dropped and been eaten by the bears, except for the 3 or 4 bushels we have stored in the basement. The pumpkins and squash have been rushed from the rot inducing rains into the basement. The last cucumbers hang from their trellises, of little interest now.

Some of the first things I planted last spring are still standing in the garden though. The Red Bor kale, not the best for eating, becomes more ominously elegant as the rest of the garden dies around it. There are still at least 30 heads of cabbage. I’m hoping the January Kings actually make it through to January this year, not getting drown by flood waters.

This beauty is Bacalan de Rennes, a French heirloom cabbage that I tried for the first time this year. She seems too fragile in her powder pale coloring and ruffled edges to withstand a great deal of frost or rain, but I want to see if she can. Her taste is so delicate I have just pulled leaves off and munched them in the garden.
One of my clients has a plastic “stone” in her garden with a Gandhi quote “carved” into it. It reads: “There is more to life than increasing it’s speed.” I used to pride myself on my speed. One friend used to even refer to me as a hummingbird, for the shear velocity at which I spent my day. But something more beautiful is happening to me as I age; I’m slowing down.
I caught a cold this past week; it was a doozy. I coddled and befriended it, once I got over the missing work melodrama in my head and settled down on the sofa with the remote control and watched movie after movie [ “Death at a Funeral” was my favorite; I love black British humor.] I indulged myself in a stack of books. Katherine Mansfield short stories, one of my favorites from my youth, and the new Lydia Millet stories “Love in Infant Monkeys”. I finally read “The Golden Spruce” by John Vaillant, amazing. I flipped through “ Gourmet” ( bye-bye, boo-hoo), "Garden Design” (yawn) and “Harper’s” ( the Index!) I almost began to wonder if there was a way to prolong this illness, except my back started hurting from lying on the lumpy sofa too long.
And that damn cabbage white guilt kept flitting around singing, “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.”