Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lettuce Love

The purpose of this blog is to detail the transformation of my yard, and my life, from ornamental to food-producing. And I promise to get to that shortly. But since we haven't yet put shovel to soil, I thought I'd take advantage of this time before all hell breaks loose to fill in a bit more backstory for you.

So, after the fresh egg conversation with my father, I had an equally ecstatic incident regarding growing my own lettuce. My daughter and I went to Maine for a week's vacation.  We stayed with my friend Jenny's family in their wainscot-and-trim cottage. 

Behind their cottage was a little fairytale of a garden, all the misty greens and yellows bleeding together in the steady rain.  It was a magical place, even seen from beneath an umbrella. The chickens (yes she had chickens! :-) clucked contentedly. The squirrels watched imperiously from their tree-stump throne. To tell you the truth, I wouldn't have been surprised to see a leprechaun carousing among the hostas.

It was from here that Jenny procured the greens for our supper table, fresh from the garden. Given what else was on my plate, a boiled Maine lobster and an ear of early-summer corn, I had very little interest in the salad. I took a polite handful, and set to work on my lobster.

Mmmmmm....lobster. It was so good that I didn't even use the drawn butter. I ate methodically. First, the claws, then the meat in the body, then the silky tail. Using my teeth to crunch the shell, I sucked every last morsel out of every thin lobster leg.  Then I plucked every sweet kernel of corn off the cob. Summer on a stick. Finally, I was done. And full.  I had room, maybe, for one bite of salad. 

Dressed only with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, it was a simple salad. My favorite kind. I took one mouthful of mesclun into my mouth. 

Joy! Bright, tasty joy! This was no homogenous, store-bought spring mix. It was a mix of lettuces and cabbages and arugula, each with a distinct taste, a texture all its own. So fresh, so flavorful. Not only did I eat my own salad, but I commandeered the serving bowl. Jenny and her husband Keith watched with mounting amusement as I continued eating until every last leaf was gone. 

And in that moment, phase two of my project was born. I was going to have chickens, oh yes. There would be eggs.  But there would also be lettuce. Oh, yes, there would be lettuce. 

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