Spring has released us out into the sunshine. It's the season for supper on the back porch. And since we're lazy sorts, we've planted good nibbles right here. What wonderful synchronicity that the most delicious greens sprout early and come on strong in the cool weather, just when we are happiest to soak in the sunlight that pools near our back door as day goes down.
The garden planter closest to the kitchen almost made it through the winter with buoyant mache and arugula and spinach. Those greens all but glowed in contrast to the snow and the dead-stick honeysuckle toughing it out nearby. But then a two-below wind ripped the greenhouse plastic off one night and...whoosh! Just like that, everything was freeze-dried. Lucky for us, the spinach merely hunkered down for spring, and the mache too came back as soon as the weather warmed. I had underplanted everything with more mache and arugula seeds. Those germinated in February.
By March, I was able to plant more seeds in the empty planters I had prepped in the fall with fresh compost. They are now providing us with lettuces like Tom Thumb and Lollo Rosso and Forellenschluss, as well as Wrinkled Crinkled Curly Cress. Radishes are plumping up. (Why is it that radishes are supposedly the fastest vegetable, but when you're waiting for them, it takes a lot of waiting?) The Melting Mammoth peas are twining up the twig supports.
From out here on the porch, we have a view of the chickens pecking in the shiny new grass and the leaves unfolding on the trees. The birds sing, and we grow still, listening for the cardinals, the swallows, the orioles. Ducks fly over on the way to the river. When the pizza oven is burning, we can watch the fire.
Most of all, we can see up close the miraculous stirrings among the plants: Peas reach for a place to grow. Lettuce bundles up into tight mounds. A garlic chive seed sprouts a little thread that does a kind of yoga on its way to straightening up.
Here's what I savor most as my children tend the seedlings and sniff the cilantro and sneak a curly cress leaf (or three), I savor knowing that it's all right here in the middle of our lives: growing our food, preparing it, sharing it with one another. It's the slowest food imaginable, and it slows us down to enjoy life. It's so local it's intimate. Like our back-porch garden planters, our food is right here in the center of our lives.