Friday, September 28, 2007

basil flower

Local breakfast. Very local.
The other morning I thought I'd make an omelet, and sadly thought, but I have no green onions. But then a light flashed, and I thought, but oh! I have fresh basil growing on my deck! So popping outside in my sky blue jammies to harvest, I noticed my that basil pot is in bloom! Beautiful white buds! Then I heard my mother's voice, "Harvest your plants before they go to seed", or "Pinch off the buds so they don't take the energy from the plant". OOOhhh, have I let my plant go too far?

My parents grew up on real farms, and my mother couldn't wait to move to 'the city'. Seems it was hard work on the farm no matter your age, as long as you could pull weeds, sweep, what ever your little hands could hold. However, 'the city' was actually a small town by the time I was a little one, and my parents had 'a garden' in the backyard. Yep, a garden big enough to feed the entire neighborhood. House plots were bigger in those days. I do remember weeding. By the time I was a teen, my parents being older stopped gardening as it was 'too much work', and my mom's hands kept getting sunspots the doctors were afraid would turn into melanoma. And she didn't like gloves, she liked the feel of the plants.

We did enjoy however, many quaint things that you are lucky to find in the farmer's markets these days -- damson plums, gooseberries, rhubarb, boysenberries, loganberries (all kinds of berries as they worked well in the Western Washington climate), and all kinds of antique pole bean varieties that my mother remembered growing up with in the south. My mother even convinced her sister to send her some poke seed. In the south, poke grows into a bush about waist high. Well, when you try it in Western Washington, it's height exceeds the roof of the house! My mom sent some photos to her sisters in Kentucky, who were amazed. She also discovered that the leaves of the plant grown this tall were rather tough... so much for localizing an import.

I remember my mother going out into the garden and bringing me back treasures when I was 4 and 5 years old. Sometimes it would be fresh squash blossoms, floured and flash fried. Other times she'd weave a basket of grass and put some fresh red raspberries in it. She said she remembered her grandmother making these little treats for her and wanted to pass it on. Such were my thoughts as I snipped of a piece of fresh flowering basil, and harvested the leaves for the omelet. And yum, did it make a fine omelet.

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