Saturday, February 18, 2017

Glorious February Saturday morning











Today is the start of both the Presidents' Day three-day holiday weekend and of the mid-winter school break in our neck of the woods. The city of Saratoga Springs gets happily busy during holidays and today was no exception.  

I got out and about with greater alacrity than usual this morning and headed to the indoor farmers' market at the Lincoln Baths in Saratoga Spa State Park. Into my shopping bag went some honey crisp apples and the makings for an easy dinner for tonight: fresh crab cakes, local sweet potatoes, a rustic loaf of whole wheat bread, and in honor of  George Washington, a small cherry pie. 

I had planned to go for a walk while I was already in the park, so I stowed my purchases and set off on my favorite two-mile loop.

I love a winter day like this one. The sun was shining brightly on still-clean snow. The temperature was climbing above freezing and there were no frigid wind gusts. Lots of people were already out, walking dogs, jogging, pushing strollers, cross country skiing. Although I had only intended to walk, the pavement on the path was mostly clear of snow so I thought, why not jog a bit? And off I trotted. 

I wasn't really dressed right for a run, but I managed to jog nearly the whole two miles. I did slow down to pick my way across occasional icy patches, but I still made pretty good time (for an out-of-practice lady approaching 67, that is.) After a too sedentary January, to be outdoors, breathing in good clean air, rediscovering  the joy of running all over again felt wonderful. It's time to get back on a regular fitness schedule, for certain.

There are also many indoor pleasures in February. I am knitting a second pink "resist" hat at the request of a friend. Dreamily, I look at plant catalogs and think about what I'd like to change in my garden this spring. I have the pot of lilies of the valley that I bought recently from White Flower Farm to inspire me. From tiny pips, the plants have shot up and the blossoms are giving off that lovely Muguet de Bois scent. 

I've just finished reading Purity, by Jonathan Franzen, an author I usually enjoy. Didn't like this one so much. 500-plus pages of a slightly creepy dysfunctional cast of characters. Deciding I needed to cleanse my literary palate, so to speak, I've picked up a collection of Marilynne Robinson essays to read next: When I Was a Child I Read Books. And also on the night table is Convictions, by Marcus Borg. This last one I am reading along with the "theology book group" at the Presbyterian New England Congregational Church in Saratoga Springs. Ridiculously long name but an active, stimulating church that is involved in a lot of good stuff. This weekend, for example, they are hosting a public forum: Uniting Communities Against the Politics of Hate.  It will take place on Sunday, February 19, from 4pm-6pm. Check out the calender on their web page here for more information.

Enjoy this lovely winter weekend!



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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Respite or interlude, call it what you will

Goodwin Creek Gray Lavender
Paperwhites
Barbara Pierson with a rosemary plant.
Streptocarpus "Grape Ice"
Rosemary Prostratus
Convallaria (Lily-of-the-Valley) pips
Convallaria pip, close up






Convallaria pips after five days

I am a tad late in writing this post about last weekend, but there you are.

I don't know about you, but I was badly in need of a break, a respite, an interlude. From what? From the contentious internet, from the string of worrying news, from being indoors too much.  I had read about a workshop to be held last Saturday at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and thought that might be just the antidote I needed.

The two-hour program, "Growing Fragrant Plants Indoors" was offered by Barbara Pierson of White Flower Farm and it didn't disappoint. I confess, I already know a fair amount about growing plants, so I didn't have to go, but there are always things to learn anew, to be reminded about.

Barbara Pierson turned out to be a charming instructor, chatting about growing jasmine, citrus, lavender, culinary herbs, and forced bulbs indoors in winter. She shared her expertise for keeping these plants looking their best from fertilization and winter care to pest control and trade secrets for keeping plants healthy. She also brought along a selection of specimen plants and offered some for purchase from White Flower Farm.

I sat among eighteen or so folks of a very similar demographic and enjoyed the talk. At the end, I bought a reasonably priced pot of Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria) pips, nicely pre-chilled by White Flower Farm. The pot looked dry and unpromising but I knew it wouldn't disappoint. The last photo above shows the plants' progress after only five days and one watering. It won't be long before we will have blossoms and a lovely scent to enjoy before "real" spring arrives.

And, quelle surprise, this turned out to be my lucky day. Guess who won the door prize? Why, c'est moi! And a rather nice one, it was: a $50 gift certificate from White Flower Farm. What fun.

After the talk, I zipped down Interstate 90 to Schenectady for their Second Annual Soup Stroll and by pre-arrangement, met my Handsome Husband there. We enjoyed sampling some delicious soups and ended up in Schenectady's Little Italy neighborhood. Continuing my lucky streak, I was able to nab the very last loaf of bread for sale at Perreca's. Gotta love that old world bread. Just four ingredients and absolute heaven. Unfortunately, it went home in the HH's car and you can see what was left of it after his drive home. Well, I did get my share in the end.

Now, I could insert a heart-felt diatribe here about how the legacy of humble immigrants greatly enriches life here in America. I mean, that wonderful Perreca's bread! The amazing lemony lentil soup we had at the Indian place!

Oh, dear. So much for the respite from politics. It's a good thing that Saratoga's Chowderfest is coming up this weekend. I feel the need for another midwinter antidote.

Saratoga Chowderfest runs from 11 to 4, this Saturday, February 4,  throughout Saratoga Springs with a few stops on the outskirts. 





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