“If you have a garden and a library,
you have everything you need.”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
Spring has sprung, the grass is riz… and now we know where all the flowers iz…volunteering in our front yard! We were a little shocked a few days ago when we discovered that the greenery we thought were perennial Agapanthus that never sent up flowers are, in fact, irises. We oohed and ahhed like… well, like eejits, really. Our neighbors must think we’ve never seen a flower before.
Of course, the neighbors are probably used to the madness by now. The noise level outdoors has risen, as T’s been crowing her victory over Sidney and …Sonia Squirrel. (Oh, yes. The squirrels are multiplying. We now have four, but at least two of them, probably Boris and Natasha, haven’t hung around long enough for their names to be screamed in fury… “Bad squirrel! No! Stop digging!” – As if that helps. They’re as bad as really smart, tree-climbing dogs…). The feeder has been moved now TWICE, because little rodent brains work feverishly, and they’ve managed to outsmart the humans three times, but this time it looks like the opposable digits crew won. We know we’ve won because, at long last, we’ve seen ACTUAL BIRDS visiting the feeder, as opposed to large hanging rodents… We’ve identified Nuttall’s Woodpeckers (or Downy’s — it’s hard to tell, and they won’t sit still for photographic proof just yet) and a pair of Lesser OR American goldfinches — once again, they’re not quite comfortable enough with us not to bolt every time they hear us moving toward a camera. The combination of bird baths and bird feeders has proven to be irresistible — and we really thought the birdbaths would be just something the sparrows enjoyed. Who knew we even had goldfinch in the neighborhood?
(We’ve amused ourselves with the realization that our birdbaths look a great deal like a pair of poppies we admired earlier in the Spring. Weird synchronicity, that.)
Meanwhile, the roses are blooming their hearts out, surprising us with a few blooms from the rootstock, even – fully different colors and sizes that expected. Even a tiny, dry set of twigs in the back that didn’t produce before has sprouted a single, brilliant peach rose. This year, the yard seems to provide a little surprise around every corner… fortunately all nice surprises thus far. (We’re looking at you, Boris and Natasha. What else have you buried in the yard??)
D always jokes that T. has a natural taste for “nuts and twigs,” based on how she was raised (Shout-out to the vegetarian-vegan-wheat-grass-drinking, alfalfa-pill-providing ::shudder:: tofu-touting parenti!), so it’s no wonder that she actually likes rye bread, despite the fact that for many people it’s kind of …on the Bleh And Avoid list. Much to her unbridled glee, she’s now supported in that “like” by a nod from various nutritional reports. The Whole Grain council has rounded up the lot here, but the bottom line is that rye bread can really help support the cellular work in the endocrine system, and if you’re pre-diabetic or suffering from an inflammatory disorder, whole-grain rye can help.
(There are a LOT of people who preach the gospel of “reversing” diabetes, and “curing” yourselves with rye, and we’d like to just duck, so our endocrinologist can give those people a big dose of stink-eye without us in the line of fire. *ducks* Thank you.)
Look: we have no idea about that – and don’t send us argumentative email about it, either. We’re not saying that rye cures anything, nor are we touting any particular Huffington-post-quoted doctors, or Dr. Oz (please not Dr. Oz!). We’re just saying that rye has been shown, over time, to enhance insulin secretion, indicating a possible improvement of β cell function, which is saying that your pancreas is doing more of its job making insulin.
The irony was discovering this AFTER starting a rye sourdough starter. (Which, in its earliest stages, smells …floral. Not sour. Floral. While this is weird, it’s …kind of nice, because sometimes a starter crock can have quite a pungent smell.) Our local bakery has quit carrying the sourdough rye we liked, so we’d decided to do our best to recreate it — so far, we’re working on getting the bread to RISE properly. While our first loaves were not pretty in terms of “traditional” bread, they were beautiful bannocks! A little more work with dough conditioner and gluten, possibly some oat bran, and we’ll see ourselves to rights. Eventually. At least it’s delicious whether it’s pretty or not.
One rainy afternoon, T. decided to start the garden… early. She may yet repent of this notion, as the kitchen sunroom floor is hosting a great many seedlings which may need to be repotted before finally being put outside. We were happy to find a really good use for the plastic “clamshell” packaging on the apples from Costco; they make nice little greenhouses with their plastic lids, and are quite reusable. Now that many groceries are switching to plastic egg cartons, they also make a nicely reusable starter for small seeds.
The gooseberries and Alpine strawberries have miniseeds, which have produced equally teensy seedlings, so staying indoors for awhile longer might be just fine for them. We’ve never grown either, and have a lot of hopes for them — the poha berries, or cape gooseberry, is allegedly a very simple plant to grow, and Alpine strawberries grow wild in Northern Italy — in the cold, in the dry, and in the wet. T. is sure she’s going to kill something so has planted nearly all of her seeds of each plant… which means that we may, in fact, soon have WAY TOO MUCH of everything. Isn’t that the way it goes, though? Ah, well; better too many gooseberries than too many zucchini… although, that’s probably going to happen, too.
The kale and jicama have produced surprisingly hearty, thick-leafed seedlings, and of course, the cucumbers and birdhouse gourds are making a break for freedom already and trying to vine, even with only two leaves… thing just might get interesting, here…