an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

vegetables

All-Day Vegetable Soup

All-day Vegetable Soup
photo of a pot of soup

All-day Vegetable Soup

I first ran this on Labor Day 2010, and it’s time again for it this year. At the height of the growing season, visiting the farmer’s market with all its shapes and colors and people and languages and sounds and smells, and gathering herbs and vegetables in the quiet of my own garden, then the afternoon of organizing the ingredients, cleaning and trimming and chopping, stirring things in the big pot, the slightly steamy windows and the scents filling every area of the house seems to set the tone for autumn on our first cool day as the leaves begin to change.

I long ago finished the last container from the freezer from last year’s pot of soup. I’m looking forward to taking out a container of harvest freshness in the dark of the coming winter.

I make All-day Vegetable Soup on the first cool Saturday in the fall with the freshest vegetables from my garden or the farmer’s market if I’m out of something. A big pot of soup simmered all day tastes different from a small pot of soup cooked an hour or two. Think of our ancestors, not so long ago even, who cooked huge vats of soups made from what was on hand to feed large families, simmering over the fire all day so the flavors would blend but the vegetables keep their shapes without overcooking to mush, and it preserves well frozen or pressure canned too.

It’s also a great day to make bread because it will rise beautifully with the steam and warmth from a big pot of soup. Where just a few days ago you were dripping sweat with intense summer heat, suddenly it’s cool, feeling cold, and possibly raining (as it is here today) and for the first time in the coming cooler season the kitchen windows will steam up; you’ll probably need to open a window to let some moisture out of the kitchen, and you feel that sens of security that comes with being warm inside when it’s cold outside.

Use the big canning pot that holds five gallons of liquid, add two gallons of stock you’ve made over the summer from simmering vegetables, or just use plain water. Assemble your vegetables, and don’t worry if you don’t have everything on the list. Use what you have—one zucchini and three yellow crookneck squash? Fine. Use what you like—don’t want beans in your soup? Leave them out.

A note before you begin: Collect all the vegetable and herb trimmings, peels, skins, cores, whatever, and at the same time or later you’ll simmer those in filtered water in another stock pot to make a few quarts of vegetable stock to use for another pot of soup or other recipe that calls for vegetable stock.

Add, to taste:

  • garlic (I use a whole head)
  • onion, white or yellow, one or two large ones
  • six stalks chopped celery, reserve tops for later
  • 3 lbs. chopped tomatoes
  • four cups chopped carrots
  • four cups chopped potatoes
  • four cups green and/or yellow beans snapped in 1-inch sections
  • whole small head of cabbage or half large, chopped
  • four cups sliced zucchini or other summer squash
  • fresh corn kernels from four ears of corn
  • four cups fresh peas
  • four cups chopped broccoli
  • four cups chopped cauliflower
  • anything else you have on hand: turnips, parsnips or other root crops, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, mustard or other greens whatever you want in your soup
  • two cups of dried beans, can be all the same but I use a little of each kind of dried bean I have in the kitchen: kidney, pink, great northern, navy, lima, etc.
  • chopped fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, thyme

Boil stock.

Reduce to simmer—and remember: “simmer” is the operative word all the way through.

Add dry beans.

Add chopped vegetables one by one, beginning with the firmest, like carrots, and ending with the greens.

Simmer at least four hours past the last vegetable added.

Add chopped fresh herbs and celery leaves, simmer one half hour more.

Let sit, covered, for at least an hour, preferably to.

Eat several bowls.

Let cool completely, which can take hours depending on how much you made.

Can in pressure canner or freeze in freezer containers.

Open a jar in January and remember summer.

Recipe “All-day Vegetable Soup” Copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

. . . . . . .

Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy

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September Salads

September Salads
September Salads

September Salads

A little extra leaf lettuce for when the weather turns hot, then cool, in a barrel so the critters can’t get it. I just planted the seeds on Sunday, they actually sprouted by Wednesday, this was taken today, Thursday. I had the seed packet tucked into the edge of the barrel, but apparently the cardinal didn’t like the way that looked and kept pulling it out and tossing it in the barrel. No matter, I can remember what’s planted there. Yum, can’t wait!

. . . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


The First Raspberries!

First Raspberries
First Raspberries

First Raspberries

Yum! First raspberries! I have mixed feelings about the fact that a bird got that first ripe berry! I decided to leave it there until I went inside from morning watering and transplanting, when I went to get it, it was gone, not on the ground anywhere, but birds had been over there. Well, they are the ones who planted it.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Artifacts

Artifacts
Artifacts

Artifacts

This is what happens when you forgot the gourds on the deck all winter, and the basket too. It almost looks like a bird’s nest with eggs in it. But it all looks so friendly and gently worn. I think I’ll pull the seeds out of the gourds, though, especially those dinosaur gourds, but carefully so I can use the shell for a little bird house for a chickadee.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


On Planting Peas

Pease Vine
Pease Vine

Pease Vine

It’s my annual paean to gardening and the cycles of life.

Every year in the month of March I awaken one morning with the knowledge it’s time to plant the peas, another step in the flow of the seasons. Though I have plants growing indoors, this is truly the beginning of the gardening season for me. Whether it’s the sun, moon, weather, schedule or simple urge to get out there and get my hands dirty I don’t know, but I enjoy the simple manual labor without assistance from any electronic device, ears open to the birds, face feeling the breeze, hands and feet feeling the earth. Many a photo, poem, essay and painting has been inspired by the simple acts of growing things.

Today might be the day though I have much cleanup out there and the soil is either too frozen or too soggy, yet very son I feel, it will be, and then I will be far too busy, and nowhere near my computer, to post this essay, so I want to share it now, and share my excitement for the coming season of growing. I first read this essay for the first New Year Poetry and Prose Reading of the erstwhile Carnegie Writer’s Group which I’d led from 2003 to 2006. In the meantime, my “Early Sweetness” peas are at the ready for when the day comes.

On Planting Peas

It is early March and I am planting peas. The wan spring sun is finding its heat and lays like a warm hand upon my back as I work. Signs of approaching spring fill my senses in the mild air on my skin, the scent of damp soil and the shrieks of children as they run in frenzied circles of freedom, much like the birds swooping and circling above whistling their mix of songs.

We have passed the first intoxicating days of air that does not bite, endless sun warm enough to melt the last snowfall into a composition of dripping and trickling, soften the soil and make one’s blood run with the abandon of a stream overflowing with spring thaw. The dawns have come noticeably earlier and the muted indigo dusks have lost the sharp quickness of winter and softened to a moist lingering evening.

Perhaps it is the phase of the sun or the moon, the proximity to the vernal equinox or some eternal voice that speaks to those who will listen about the time and season of things, or my own impatience to join in with the cycle that has been going on without me for a few months. Whether it is any of these reasons or all of them or none of them, I awaken one day in March every year with the knowledge that this is the day to plant the peas. It is as clear a yearly anniversary for me as any holiday, and can…

Click here to visit my professional and creative writing page to read the rest of On Planting Peas


All-Day Vegetable Soup

photo of a pot of soup

All-day Vegetable Soup

I first ran this on Labor Day 2010, and it’s coming around to the time for it this year. At the height of the growing season, visiting the farmer’s market with all its shapes and colors and people and languages and sounds and smells, and gathering herbs and vegetables in the quiet of my own garden, then the afternoon of organizing the ingredients, cleaning and trimming and chopping, stirring things in the big pot, the slightly steamy windows and the scents filling every area of the house seems to set the tone for autumn on our first cool day as the leaves begin to change.

I long ago finished the last container from the freezer from last year’s pot of soup. I’m looking forward to taking out a container of harvest freshness in the dark of the coming winter.

I make All-day Vegetable Soup on the first cool day in the fall with the freshest vegetables from my garden or the farmer’s market if I’m out of something. A big pot of soup simmered all day tastes different from a small pot of soup cooked an hour or two. Think of our ancestors, not so long ago even, who cooked huge vats of soups made from what was on hand to feed large families, simmering over the fire all day so the flavors would blend but the vegetables keep their shapes with no mush, and it preserves well frozen or pressure canned too.

It’s also a great day to make bread because it will rise beautifully with the steam and warmth from a big pot of soup.

Use the big canning pot that holds five gallons of liquid, add two gallons of stock you’ve made over the summer from simmering vegetables, or just use plain water.

Add, to taste:

  • garlic (I use a whole clove)
  • onion, white or yellow, one or two large ones
  • six stalks chopped celery, reserve tops for later
  • 3 lbs. chopped tomatoes
  • four cups chopped carrots
  • four cups chopped potatoes
  • four cups green and/or yellow beans snapped in 1-inch sections
  • whole small head of cabbage or half large, chopped
  • four cups slice zucchini
  • fresh corn kernels from four ears of corn
  • four cups fresh peas
  • four cups chopped broccoli
  • four cups chopped cauliflower
  • anything else you have on hand: turnips, parsnips or other root crops, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, mustard or other greens whatever you want in your soup
  • two cups of dried beans, can be all the same but I use a little of each kind of dried bean I have in the kitchen: kidney, pink, great northern, navy, lima, etc.
  • chopped fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, thyme

Boil stock.

Reduce to simmer—and remember: “simmer” is the operative word all the way through.

Add dry beans.

Add chopped vegetables one by one, beginning with the firmest, like carrots, and ending with the greens.

Simmer at least two hours past the last vegetable added.

Add chopped fresh herbs, simmer one half hour more.

Let sit, covered, for about an hour.

Eat several bowls.

Let cool completely, which can take hours depending on how much you made.

Can in pressure canner or freeze in freezer containers.

Open a jar in January and remember summer.


Poem for Sunday: Bridal Wreath

bridal wreath
bridal wreath

Bridal Wreath

The bridal wreath is blooming around so many of the older houses in town. Bridal wreath is an old-fashioned shrub, blooming briefly around Memorial Day in waves of snowy white blossoms, then to return to a nice, quiet dark green bush.

I read this poem initially at my 2009 poetry reading, “Change of Season”, soon after I’d written it. I read it again at “In This Valley”, my poetry reading to celebrate Carnegie’s 120th birthday, since I felt it was one of those poems that had described life in this town for many, both those mentioned in the poem, and especially my memories of the neighborhoods when I was little. Every house had bridal wreath spirea growing in front, and everyone was immensely proud of it when it bloomed. Cuttings and small shrubs for planting were given to young married couples who’d purchased a new house. As I read, I was surprised to see heads nodding in agreement and smiles. It was familiar to us all.

This poem was inspired by an actual home, more on that after the poem. Because the bridal wreath blooms at this time of year and because the lives of the couple I mention are deeply touched by wars, I keep this poem for Memorial Day.

Bridal Wreath

Blooming in drifts so dense and tall they hide the entire porch
The bridal wreath greets the May bride
Though she first crossed the threshold decades ago when the shrubs were new,
And placed a vase of the blossoms on her first dinner table,
Has since raised her children,
Lost her son in Viet Nam
And her husband to cancer,
Her daughters moved out
And she has held her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Through it all the bridal wreath unfailingly welcomed her in the morning every May
In the neighborhood lined with large, neat family homes.
Now the paint is peeling,
Drawn window shades hang in tatters
The bride herself is gone,
Her home the only one remaining on this dusty deserted block
Yet the bridal wreath blooms as fervently as ever this May
Remembering her.

Bridal Wreath ©2009 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Below is the actual home that inspired this poem. Nothing special about it except that it is the only family home left in what had been a block of these homes, and it’s fenced off because it was shortly thereafter bulldozed for the CVS that now stands there.

House with bridal wreath.

House with bridal wreath.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

 


poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Entertained by Brussels Sprouts

brussels sprouts in snowy garden
brussels sprouts in snowy garden

Entertained by Brussels Sprouts

I have no idea why they made me laugh, but these Brussels sprouts really make a statement against the snow.

Some plants have to be different.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Alien Life Forms in November Garden

brussels sprouts
brussels sprouts

Alien Life Forms in the November Garden

Plants can look very interesting after they’ve been frosted and snowed on a few times. It’s really just my erstwhile Brussels sprouts, which I’d planted a second set later in the summer to be sure to have some fresh at Thanksgiving. Sprouts are tough, and I’ve often picked them after the frost and even in the snow, and I’ve also cooked the greens which are very much like collards. But the sun’s angle is too low after August and falls behind the trees, so even though it’s temperate and great weather for a cool-season crop like Brussels sprouts, there just isn’t enough sun to make the little sprouts grow. But they made very interesting photo subjects.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


All-Day Vegetable Soup

photo of vegetable soup
photo of a pot of soup

All-day Vegetable Soup

I first ran this on Labor Day 2010, but it’s coming around to the time for it. At the height of the growing season, visiting the farmer’s market with all its shapes and colors and people and languages and sounds and smells, and gathering herbs and vegetables in the quiet of my own garden, then the afternoon of organizing the ingredients, cleaning and trimming and chopping, stirring things in the big pot, the slightly steamy windows and the scents filling every area of the house seems to set the tone for autumn on our first cool day as the leaves begin to change.

I long ago finished the last container from the freezer from last year’s pot of soup. I’m looking forward to taking out a container of harvest freshness in the dark of the coming winter.

This was my “labor” on Labor Day!

I make All-day Vegetable Soup on the first cool day in the fall with the freshest vegetables from my garden or the farmer’s market if I’m out of something. A big pot of soup simmered all day tastes different from a small pot of soup cooked an hour or two.

It’s also a great day to make bread because it will rise beautifully with the steam and warmth from a big pot of soup.

Use the big canning pot that holds five gallons of liquid, add two gallons of stock you’ve made over the summer from simmering vegetables, or just use plain water.

Add, to taste:

  • garlic (I use a whole clove)
  • onion, white or yellow, one or two large ones
  • six stalks chopped celery, reserve tops for later
  • 3 lbs. chopped tomatoes
  • four cups chopped carrots
  • four cups chopped potatoes
  • four cups green and/or yellow beans snapped in 1-inch sections
  • whole small head of cabbage or half large, chopped
  • four cups slice zucchini
  • fresh corn kernels from four ears of corn
  • four cups fresh peas
  • four cups chopped broccoli
  • four cups chopped cauliflower
  • anything else you have on hand: turnips, parsnips or other root crops, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, mustard or other greens whatever you want in your soup
  • two cups of dried beans, can be all the same but I use a little of each kind of dried bean I have in the kitchen: kidney, pink, great northern, navy, lima, etc.
  • chopped fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, thyme

Boil stock.

Reduce to simmer. Add dry beans.

Add chopped vegetables one by one, beginning with the firmest, like carrots, and ending with the greens.

Simmer at least two hours past the last vegetable added.

Add chopped fresh herbs, simmer one half hour more.

Let sit, covered, for about an hour.

Eat several bowls.

Let cool completely, which can take hours depending on how much you made.

Can in pressure canner or freeze in freezer containers.

Open a jar in January and remember summer.


Sampler

vegetables in basket
vegetables in basket

Garden Sampler

A little of this and a little of that from the garden, broccoli, a sweet pepper, some tomatoes, ultimately they were marinated and grilled and tossed with pasta.

I was very closely supervised by a sleepy black cat while I harvested this basket.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Eggplants Down the Line

eggplants
eggplants

On Down the Line

Not only is my row of six eggplants producing my largest crop of aubergine than ever, the six plants are still each producing lovely violet blossoms. Here you can see them in a row, new blossoms on plant number one, and the blossoms and eggplants on all the plants down the line. Not bad for having started out the year smashed by the top of my neighbor’s 70-foot maple tree that fell in a storm.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Going Everywhere

eggplant blossom
eggplant blossom

Going Everywhere

The leaves and branches really are going everywhere, and in time, the young eggplant and the young eggplant blossom will go just about everywhere an eggplant can go. I really just loved the random shapes and edges in this image, and the gentle colors in the bright sun of midday.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


It’s What’s for Dinner

fresh broccoli
fresh broccoli

Broccoli

I almost feel bad about eating this broccoli tonight. We’ve been spending the past few weeks getting to know each other. But I treat my vegetables kindly, give them treats of composted manure and fishtank water, and talk to them and sing to them. Really, I do, I always have. I let each plant go to seed at the end of its season, and often I save and plant those seeds next year; they are open-pollinated, often heritage, varieties. Getting to know your food is an important thing to do.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats, visit The Creative Cat.


Poem for Saturday: Raspberry Dreams

wild raspberries
wild raspberries

Wild Raspberries

The raspberries are finally ripening, and it’s time to go and harvest a few baskets and to visit the warm quiet places at the edges of woods filled only with the sounds of insects humming and buzzing and clicking, and birds singing to each other in the cool darkness among the trees. Though raspberry time is typically June and summer has passed its zenith, the raspberries are finally ripening in my yard and along the back roads I travel. I remember them first in the abandoned hillside pasture across the street from where I grew up, on a hot summer day, barefoot on a narrow dirt trail through the tall grasses.

Raspberry Dreams

You can best see the constellations
by lying on your back and dreaming
and in due time the sky is filled with
cavorting gods and goddesses,
mythological beasts,
love, death, politics, art
all in the air above you;
yet concentration on one
will cause them all to lose their magic.

So I, facing the surprise berry patch,
focusing to find one berry, and then another
while the clean June sun spilled over my head
warming the smell of berries and leaves and dirt
and small wild plants brushed the soles of my bare feet,
became at the same time a small person
faced with a raspberry clump taller than me,
surprised to find something
so joyfully abundant
and free for the taking
where last week there had only been leaves
along this path,
and, while watching the clouds
forgetting the berries
in both ages
my hands found berry after berry
and my heart found dreams.

Raspberry Dreams ©2006 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

See a few more photos of raspberries on Today.


poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Yellow Beans

basket of yellow beans
basket of yellow beans

Yellow beans beauty shot.

Four pounds of yellow beans today—the very first thing from my garden after a late start, extended cool weather, excessive heat, heavy rains, and a 70-foot maple tree falling on a portion of it. Yellow beans are like green beans, but better, sweeter, more tender, less of that stringy starchy nature beans get when they’ve been hanging on the plant for too long. I’ve grown them for so many years that I’m surprised when I find other gardeners don’t know about them, or think they are somehow exotic. They are just yellow beans, and lightly steamed and buttered they are a meal in themselves.

basket of yellow beans

Yellow beans in the garden.


Starfire

leek flowers desaturated

Leeks.

leeks in the garden

What leeks normally look like.

Nothing fancy, just a little work in PhotoShop on a very common vegetable. These are the flowers for leeks, a member of the onion family. They are biennial as onions are, growing greens and growing their bulbs the first year, which is when we usually pull and use them. If left to overwinter in the ground the second year the bloom in June with big spheres of flowers at the ends of long rays; these spheres can vary between 2″ and 5″ in diameter. The flowers are pale yellow with a pinkish tinge, but the rays vary from pale pink to bright magenta.

Seeing them in the garden they made me think of balloons on long strings, and abstract patterns. I photographed them from all angles trying for total darkness in the background, and then found I had to adjust some levels because of the contrasts of dark and light I had included in the photos, discovering how cool it looked with just the pink. So I desaturated the green and yellow and left the red, magenta and blue channels alone. Below is a closeup of them.

Leeks are also highly attractive to bees, which is one of the reasons I let them bloom in my garden. All kinds of bees large and small and all colors and shapes come to visit the leeks, bees I’ve never seen before. Here’s a photo of a leek flower with a few bees hanging onto it in Daytime Fireworks.

leek flowers

Leeks again.


Happy Summer!

oscillating sprinkler
oscillating sprinkler

Happy solstice.

Oscillating sprinkler spattering
hot morning sun
dripping tomatoes
summer.

Happy solstice! Today was a rare day for watering but necessary, and because I don’t have my drip hoses set up I used the somewhat wasteful oscillating sprinkler. Such a nice memory of other summer mornings from way, way back seeing the oscillating lawn sprinkler,  my parents’ original aluminum one, slowly waving back and forth in the sun, its funnel-shaped spray looking as if it’s arms were open and reaching to the early morning sky, the misty spray full of rainbows, the water droplets pattering all the leaves.

And below, just to make it complete, dripping tomato cages, happy tomatoes, happy lettuce, happy carrots, happy leeks, happy phlox, and happy me, behind the camera.

garden being watered

Happy garden.


Wild Strawberries

wild strawberry
wild strawberry

Wild Strawberry

In all the good greenness of my garden

there stands a Jezebel.

~~~~~

Happy Summer Solstice


A Sweet Treat

wild straberry
wild straberry

A wild strawberry waits for me at the end of the row.

What a reward for a hot afternoon of thinning out my garden! A sweet wild strawberry.

I let many things grow in my garden along with my chosen plants, and wild strawberries are one plant that grows all over, wherever it pleases. It’s fairly short, just a crown of leaves, sprouts and grows early and reliably at the beginning of June I find tiny sweet-tart berries. The leaves shade the ground and act as a natural mulch around taller plants, and their shallow root system doesn’t compete with plants like tomatoes, peppers and corn. Where beans, salad greens and root crops like beets and carrots are concerned I remove them so they don’t shade the shorter plants, but I usually transplant them elsewhere. One great benefit is that the bunnies and groundhog like the leaves—a lot—and will often choose the strawberry leaves over my garden plants.

So it was that I was pulling other plants from around the tomatoes and encountered the first wild strawberry of the year. And more to come, as you see below.

wild strawberries

There will be lots more where those came from!


Future Salad

lettuce seedlngs
lettuce seedlngs

Future Salad

Well, maybe not tomorrow, but probably next week! Mmmmmmmmmm………….


First Harvest

photo of new potatoes

Potatoes, it’s what’s for dinner.

Some very new potatoes dug up in the bed where I’d grown potatoes last year and from which I could swear I had dug up all the potatoes last fall. They are still covered with a little soil, best for keeping them moist, but the sun still shines into the white and yellow flesh as it seems to glow.

These are mostly Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold, and are the ones I missed last year which managed to live and grow in the soil below the frost line. The largest is about two inches at its largest dimension, and they make a wonderful side boiled with butter and olive oil, the first scallions or chives and parsley.  Sometimes I have these and the first asparagus together, but this year the asparagus is late.


Essay for Saturday: On Planting Peas

Pease Vine
Pease Vine

Pease Vine

It’s my annual paean to gardening and the cycles of life.

Every year in the month of March I awaken one morning with the knowledge it’s time to plant the peas, another step in the flow of the seasons. Though I have plants growing indoors, this is truly the beginning of the gardening season for me. Whether it’s the sun, moon, weather, schedule or simple urge to get out there and get my hands dirty I don’t know, but I enjoy the simple manual labor without assistance from any electronic device, ears open to the birds, face feeling the breeze, hands and feet feeling the earth. Many a photo, poem, essay and painting has been inspired by the simple acts of growing things.

Today is not the day, yet later this week, I feel, it will be, and then I will be far too busy, and nowhere near my computer, to post this essay, so I want to share it now, and share my excitement for the coming season of growing. I first read this essay for the first New Year Poetry and Prose Reading of the erstwhile Carnegie Writer’s Group which I’d led from 2003 to 2006. In the meantime, I’m soaking my “Early Sweetness” peas so I’m ready when the day comes.

On Planting Peas

It is early March and I am planting peas. The wan spring sun is finding its heat and lays like a warm hand upon my back as I work. Signs of approaching spring fill my senses in the mild air on my skin, the scent of damp soil and the shrieks of children as they run in frenzied circles of freedom, much like the birds swooping and circling above whistling their mix of songs.

We have passed the first intoxicating days of air that does not bite, endless sun warm enough to melt the last snowfall into a composition of dripping and trickling, soften the soil and make one’s blood run with the abandon of a stream overflowing with spring thaw. The dawns have come noticeably earlier and the muted indigo dusks have lost the sharp quickness of winter and softened to a moist lingering evening.

Perhaps it is the phase of the sun or the moon, the proximity to the vernal equinox or some eternal voice that speaks to those who will listen about the time and season of things, or my own impatience to join in with the cycle that has been going on without me for a few months. Whether it is any of these reasons or all of them or none of them, I awaken one day in March every year with the knowledge that this is the day to plant the peas. It is as clear a yearly anniversary for me as any holiday, and can…

Click here to visit my professional and creative writing page to read the rest of On Planting Peas


The Last Fruit

red tomato in garden
red tomato in garden

The Last Fruit

A ripe tomato surrounded by seed heads of grass , dried asters and goldenrod and her own shriveled foliage, doesn’t last in the November garden; her color is faded, and the warming sun has forced the frozen juices from her skin to form one hesitating, reflecting drop.