I have been very much enjoying the warmth and beauty of this 35th spring I have experienced. The garden is covered in flowers, and it is the time when the laurel and live oaks shed their old, tough leaves, and they come down like rain in gusty swirls with each gentle breeze.
One morning I was up at the barest white flush of light in the East, when stars still shone brightly between the branches of the pines, and I watched the slow, sacred tilt and the passage of time when the world wakes and the light unfolds.
The roosters were crowing in the branches, and i stood for a long while where the pigs are turning pasture into a new summer garden under the pink sky, listening to the voices of the birds ringing out in patterns like the chiming of little bells.
The old stories faded into myth say the birds are the ones who gave us the power of speech, and I wondered over that while listening to the ringing of birdsong woven together, like hearing old and half-remembered words.
It was after a late night of wandering through the quiet silver pastures lit by the crescent moon looking for a pair of lost baby goats. Their mother had wandered off to graze late in the day, leaving them behind sleeping the way mother deer do, only she had forgotten where they were once she wanted them again. It was a hard task finding them, because their instinct is to lay low and be quiet and invisible until their mother comes to fetch them, only nature never intended the mother to be stupid.
So i found myself wandering empty acres under an empty sky lit by bright moonlight, looking for sleeping little goats in the shadows of all the trees. The word “Devotion” came to my mind while wading through the dewy grass, listening to the soft night sounds broken by the increasingly distressed bleating of the hopeless mother.
It reappeared when i was tending the little summer starts the next day, picking off oak leaves and watering them.
I think “Devotion” is a good description of this season and the careful tending that must be done with all the new spring babies and tender plants.
Like a religious ritual, each day they must be honored without delay.
Living at a time when self-focus is seen as the height of self expression, it feels like a radical idea, this expression of the heart and spirit in devotion to the fabric of the whole, the careful tending to of small and young and insignificant things – because the future grows and blossoms from the unseen and insignificant seeds of now.
And in the end it all comes down beside the hearth, because like the YinYang, there must always be a spot of selfish in the selfless Devotion, manifesting itself here in my bowl of soup.
Every season i like to make a soup like this, almost a Stone Soup, a Season Soup. I put on my hat and pick up my basket, and i wander off along the green paths to discover tasty and fragrant things to pull together into a single pot. Rose calls it a “trip to the grocery store”, which I think it is a funny way to think of a store like an artificial garden with different sections.
Whatever we return with goes into soup, and what you get is always remarkable, the Essence of the Garden, not only the distillation of sun and rain and soil of a single place, spiced with the Devotion that was given before returned now manifold. It is the flavor of Earthly and Heavenly forces, a bowl of medicine soup steaming before you.
Here is what went into this Spring’s soup:
Roots: Carrots, Hamburg rooted parsley.
Aromatic Herbs: Fennel, onion, cilantro, parsley, celery.
Fresh greens: Cardoon, Portuguese kale.
1. I sautée onion, carrot and aromatic herbs in butter until soft.
2. I add the latest broth that has been simmering on the back of the stove, a quart or so.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Once it boils I add the more delicate vegetables – sliced greens and cauliflower.
4. I let it gently cook until all the vegetables are soft and the flavors mingled.