Last night I picked a few more seeds from mom's garden, and said goodbye to my parents land. Goodbye to the foxes, the rocks, and the rye. I will keep crying over you for awhile, but also look forward to the year ahead, as Matt and I ready our little house-in-the-city to be sold, and begin the search for a few acres in the country, and a new heartland.


Cuphea 'Purple Passion'

I spied this cuphea in the Baker Creek catalog last winter and wondered... Could it really be that good of a color? And I thought... not freakin' likely. But the part of me that loves cupheas, or maybe the part of me that loves to prove people wrong and then get mad about how they lied, ordered the seeds anyway. And now I can tell you: Cuphea lanceolata 'Purple Passion' is really that color - like blackberries bobbing in Pinot Noir, lit from behind by a sunset. Mine is growing amongst bronze fennel, which makes for a quiet little combination that you have to examine up close to appreciate.


Good god am I grumpy

and I have been for days. Would you like to hear about the prick on a 4-wheeler whose head I nearly threw a rock at? Or how I wished the man driving the Halliburton truck that just about toppled me into the ditch would EAT A POISONOUS MUSHROOM AND DIE?

Probably not. Instead, here are three things that have managed to crack my crappy mood.

Oh hell, I can only come up with two.


The devil's darning needles

Clematis virginiana is one of the better things about Pennsylvania's roadsides. Not only is this native vine quite decorative, but it also hides from view our plentiful Keystone Ice cans and Happy Meal cartons.

A few years ago I clambered down into the swamp over the hill and pulled up a little rooted piece. I took it home and tucked it into the soil beneath the flowering quince in our yard, and every late summer since, I've sat on the glider and wondered: where is that damn thing? I can see a few stray strands of it amongst the quince branches each spring, but by August, they've disappeared.

This summer was a wet one, and the clematis thrived. Finally, the dark, glossy foliage of the quince is veiled in cream-colored lace - better than I'd hoped. If you sit in the grass underneath and look up, you see the source of a wonderful humming - one hundred pollinators, of all stripes, foraging.

Clematis virginiana also has a host of wonderful common names: you can call it devil's darning needles, virgin's bower, or old man's beard. If you were having a nudist wedding, and you were the bride, I think you could just drape yourself in a few strands and be quite stunning.


Zinnia 'Queen Red Lime'?

This, I believe, is Zinnia 'Queen Red Lime'. I bought it in the spring at a garden center, and I am in love with it. The color is quite variable - from this sort of lilac-and-chartreuse to antique rose. Tall blue ageratum, verbena bonariensis, and white nicotiana have volunteered around it (there were grape colored opium poppies earlier, too). This combination is one of my favorite accidental arrangements ever.


The buns ride shotgun

On Saturdays, I help Matt at the farmers market, for which I earn a little dough (ha!), and hang out with my honey (less common than I'd like during the gardening-and-baking season).

And every Saturday morning I mean to photograph the baking process (or the brief part of it that I am awake for). The loaves of sourdough this-and-that, the crackling ciabattas and the trays of seasonal fruit scones all look so pretty filling up the bakery racks. But the morning gets busy fast.

First I clean up any messes the dog has made in the night, and then I cook breakfast (not the most savory sequence of events). Next I walk the dog, and give her cuddles, and she and I discuss the fact that while it's really better to puke a river on the floor than on the couch, we're over it and on with our day. And all of a sudden it's time to pack bread, load the truck, and hit the highway. [Note to any of Matt's customers who might be reading this: dog not allowed in bakery.]

So all I have to post today is a somewhat blurry shot of Matt with the little honey oat loaves that would not fit in the back, as we pull out of the alley.


In my mother's night garden

I grew up an hour north of here, on ten acres that my parents have owned for 35 years. There they carved out a home from a horse pasture: house, artist's studios, wood shop, gardens. Hardwood forest grew up around them, thick and strong and tall.

Now my parents are leaving. Their reasons are complex, and some are sad. While their land has matured and, in ways, reverted (from cleared to wooded), adjoining land has recently been bulldozed and developed. Instead of the honey scent of milkweed flowers blowing over and into Mom's garden, there is diesel exhaust. Gas wells are being drilled in the area; the rigs are ironclad and obtuse, and marching in ever closer.

It seems like wildlife has concentrated on Mom and Dad's land in the past two years - both new species and a denser population of old ones. It is bittersweet - I see all those animals, my parents included, clustered in the middle, looking out. They stand in solidarity, but they are cornered.

For my parents, there is a way out, and if they could take all the others to Vermont with them, I guess they probably would. They would pack foxes, rabbits and nuthatches (with snacks!) into crates in the car, and off they'd go.

At the very center of my being, there is my parents' land. I grew up out of arrowwood tunnels and shad bowers. It is painful, all this long writing of the last chapter. All this forever saying goodbye. But that, I think, is what has caused my family to gather so many nights in the garden over this summer, and last. And so we got to know a gift: nocturnal sphinx moths.

They are loud (bzz bzz), and as the evening grows darker, the moths flap out of the shadows of the treeline. The biggest one (in the second and third pictures above) I think might be an ash sphinx, and to my eye, it is just a bit bigger than a hummingbird. It loves Mom's lilies ('Arena' is the one shown here).

My dad, Michael Poster, made these pictures last summer.


Roasted pork tacos with caramelized pineapple

Matt and I spend a lot of time talking about what we're going to eat next. It's good bedtime conversation, and out-on-a-hike conversation - anytime, really, it's fun to plan something delicious. During the summer, while the great cornucopia of vegetables that is the farmers market spills forth its bounty, we are creative, but short on time. So we talk about exciting possibilities, but it always just comes down to tacos. Luckily, tacos are versatile: you can stuff them with whatever there is.

These tacos were inspired by Garibaldi's, a Mexican restaurant in Scranton where the food is cheap, real, fiery, and f'n AWESOME. We have wedding pig left in the freezer, conveniently roasted and shredded, so we've been working on this rendition of taco yum yum.

For a light lunch for two, you need:
About 1 1/2 cups of roasted, shredded pork
1/4 cup pineapple in little chunks, fresh or canned
4 corn tortillas
Chopped onion
Chopped cilantro

Get two pans good and hot, and add a generous glug of oil to each. In one, fry the pork, and salt it a bit. After the pork has been in the pan a couple minutes, add the pineapple, and continue to fry until both are nicely browned. In the other pan, fry the tortillas, one after the other, turning when they just begin to go golden. Arrange the tortillas on a plate, top with porky pineapple stuff, onion, cilantro, and a squirt of lime. We had ours with some toasted chile salsa Matt made and a little chopped salad of lemon cucumber, chocolate cherry tomato, and Rose de Berne tomato.