Rhubarb’s Many Happy Returns

It seems odd to write about rhubarb as summer draws to a close.

Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables to be harvested in the spring.* 20180805_120622158844458296092871.jpgIt’s an herbaceous perennial that comes back to life from rhizomes every spring. The timing is perfect for it to be paired with another perennial favorite, strawberries! I can’t think of anything else that marks the start of summer like strawberry-rhubarb pie. Unfortunately, that time came and went quickly this year and I never made that pie. I ended up putting all of my effort into something less fleeting; jam. I made strawberry and strawberry-rhubarb jam.

*That’s right, it’s a vegetable! The courts were able to declare it a fruit back in the 1940’s because of its culinary association with cobblers and pies, but it was mainly done to help businesses who imported the stalks from having to pay taxes!

The jam was good to make but, I did miss getting to bake. Here’s a Gardenkeeping secret confession: I love to bake as much as I love to garden! The only problem with baking is that, if you’re not careful, everyone gets chunky around the middle. It’s definitely not a victimless pastime. So, please, please be careful if you find yourself alone in a kitchen with flour, sugar, butter…!

 

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Smoky and Blue

The Woods a Blaze

There are wildfires burning throughout the western part of the United States. Here in Washington State there have been 470 fires in 2018 so far. I was surprised to find out that every year the fire season officially starts on April 15th with burn restrictions in place on all DNR-protected lands. It turns out that as soon as the spring rains stop, everything starts to dry up and is at risk of catching on fire. This year we had a wet spring but, once May hit, the rain stopped and they began predicting a challenging year for fighting wildfires. Then came the summer.

Summer’s Haze

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I’ve had to cancel work for the week. The air quality has gotten that bad.I tried to work a bit but, it was truly miserable. Last week I was out in it and ended up feeling pretty crummy. When I showed up at work the following Monday, K came out of her house and was amazed that I was there, “We’re not even letting our dog outside today!” That was when I realized how quiet it was Uptown: an eerie air. There were no other people outside and only an occasional car driving by. The smoke had driven everyone inside to hide from its ghostly presence. I said I’d reschedule and then left for home. My head hurt and I felt tired, so, after a bath I went to bed and stayed there.

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The Good Shit

It was a late start; April instead of February.

My work and the rain have made it difficult for me to get to into my own garden. If you read my last veggie post (Can You) Dig It , we left off with me planting a winter garden instead of a cover crop.  The spinach, lettuce and kale did a great job of getting us through the winter, but then a snow storm hit in February and left snow on the ground for a week, which is unusual for Port Townsend. That freeze was enough to kill off the last of my lettuce. Then the rain started falling and has hardly let up since. Gardening these last few months has left me questioning some of my life choices! Yes, it was getting bad.

 

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Gray day? Put up your veggies!

For years I dreamed of a day without the ever present wind that use to mark the passage of days here on the Peninsula.

Wow, we’ve had a really amazing summer here in Port Townsend.  It’s been day after day of blue skies, barely a hint of a breeze and temperatures regularly  in the 80’s.  I kept wondering where I could be?

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First the wind…

Being an Inland Girl, I was use to still summer days. That was when the heat had a chance to gather. It would force all thoughts to focus on relief; a dip in the lake, sitting by a fan, drawing the curtains in the middle of the day and water fights with the neighbors! Okay, I am definitely idealizing those times but,  it had been a while since I hadn’t had to brace myself against the wind or add layers of clothes (that famous Northwest layered-look) as evening came. Every day.

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