Friday, June 26, 2015

Here I am

What you see below is what I noticed just the other day: a fig. There is a fig (on a twig, on a branch, on a tree) and that tree is planted in the ground in my very own back yard. It's taken a while, folks, but we planted it. The fig tree. It has made its way into a poem or two and maybe even a prayer. And for a while I thought I should never have mentioned it. Were we complete failures? But the tree got planted. And then the blessed thing got all excited and produced this testament to rootgrowth. And here I am, gawking.

That is exactly how the past six months have been. I finally took the risk of digging a hole in a precise location, of giving it the opportunity to get way too big, and what I'm looking at now is a promising little fig - a fig of a manuscript. Yup. We're still there, too. In "project" mode. Double the pages in six months of the page count I eeked out in five years. Not too hairy.

It isn't done yet. Ha-done! It isn't even a complete first draft. I'm still pushing for that. The goal is some semblance of a full draft by the end of summer. In this sense, the manuscript is exactly like the fig. It is right now inedible. Only one person aside from me has seen the whole thing. And I might decide it is inedible still by the end. But for now, it is really good to know that all this energy is creating something. Something I might someday get to share.

Speaking of sharing, and by the way, the Hats and High Tea from way back in May took off without so much as a lurch. I mean, there were moments in preparation when I believed (for no apparent reason) some part had already failed miserably. But that feeling passed like it always does, and pretty soon I got back to work.

So, you asked. Mostly, the tea this year was just really smooth. Golly, smooth! Mostly, the tea went exactly as planned. And yet the beauty of the whole process kind of sideswiped me. Talk about gawking. I got to create the menu again completely on whim and flit around my own kitchen for a few days. And then I got to bring the baked loot to the farm the day-of and work with incredible people to finish off the food. Carrie, my kitchen guru was there. She wears clothes like some people wear religion. It's all loose, comfortable, nonchalant. And she cooks in that spirit I love when preparing food for people. Paced, not ever hurried, but not ever exactly slow, either. And this year Dylan came over from Full Belly Farm. He was equally as calm. Calm! I'm always impressed by calm people. And willing - they were willing. They were able. They were just so bloomin' competent! Carrie's husband and two kids were there, too, doing lots of wonderful little things. Like dishes, and picking the blossoms we used for finishing. (Thanks, Bella.)

I did not get to photograph much. I don't shoot very quickly, and I tend to like a lot of space and time, so shooting was mostly out. But the plates were (I think) lovely. The savory menu: asparagus and ricotta custard tarts; open face tea sandwiches with goat and cream cheeses topped with sliced beet, slivers of sage, and tiny pink rose petals on dark rye bread; lentil-kale tartine; and Moroccan chicken salad sandwiches with juniper quince chutney (and parsley leaves peaking out on top). And the sweets: fresh strawberries; French almond macaron, made with skin-on almonds and filled with basil buttercream and pomegranate jelly; pistachio shortbread cups with apricot jam and mascarpone cream; and, finally, iced mini lemon bundt cakes with citrus flower tea. Bright, light, fresh, savory, and sweet.

Life is full, I wrote in an email a few weeks ago. And I meant it. It's been nuts. Busy. Full. But it is good. I am gawking at the fig. I am gawking at my growing manuscript, at the opportunity to make faery food. But also, the poetry class. The people there. The cakes I bake. The early summer anniversaries and birthdays. Even the waxing and waning moon. It all has my attention. And somehow there's been enough room for that attention to make me shudder and shake my head. With awe, and gratitude.

So, in lieu of a summer list, this full life is where I'm planning to sit this summer. It's where I'll be. It's where I've been. Filled up to the brim. Full up on the grass.


  1. Nice to hear the Tea went off with nary a hitch. Nice to see the fig tree getting all fruitful and multiplying. And thank you for loaning us your wise, smart, and sensible spouse. I'm enjoying getting to know him very much - he's a treasure. But I'm sure you know that already.