By LYNNE IRONS
For years I have grown celery — both the golden self-blanching and the Utah green varieties. It has been, for lack of a better expression, a crap shoot. I start it in the mid spring in flats on a 60-degree propagation mat in an unheated greenhouse. It resembles parsley as a baby and needs to be painstakingly divided into individual plants. It is not an unpleasant task on a chilly day as the greenhouse heats up nicely when the sun in shining.
I have never had it on a uniform watering schedule so it almost always becomes bitter and pithy. I am, however, not unlike a pitbull and find it difficult to let go of anything. I have always planted it and am not about to let a little crop failure for 20 years stop me.
This year I tried the celery leaf. It is exactly like parsley and very flavorful. I have been happily putting it into soups, stews, salads and egg dishes. It may be the way to go . . . celery flavor without the crunch.
Last weekend was absolutely gorgeous. It is humbling to live in such a beautiful place. The rains we had in August and September have prolonged the green leaf season. Both the maples and the Virginia creeper are breathtaking. The row of maples next to the Edgartown police station is particularly lovely. I love a row of straight-trunked trees on the edge of a property. The London plane tree lends itself to that use. They line Memorial Drive in Cambridge.
It is interesting how the vegetables take turns at bumper cropping. Last year I harvested at least four bushels of potatoes and ate them in every possible way. This year, I confess, I was too smug to take proper care of them and only managed to dig one fruit box full. Nevertheless, I filled a heaping wheelbarrow with winter squashes. I have decided that the next rainy day I am going to prepare these squashes. After peeling and removing the seeds they can be cut into one-inch chunks, packed raw into sterilized pint jars, covered with boiling water and whipped up to 10 pounds pressure in a pressure cooker. A big canner will hole 18 pints stacked two high. They need to process for 65 minutes as they are a low-acid vegetable and, hence, subject to botulism. It is important when canning to work as rapidly as possible with clean utensils. Nothing will improve in the jar, so it needs to be top quality to start.
I took over a new job with several dead and dying trees. On close examination, they had been planted too deeply and therefore were smothering. A tree has a slight flare at ground level and needs to be planted with that flare exposed. Piling truckloads of mulch around the trunk is never a good idea. Nevermind the expense and the wasted time. Also, the straps and wires holding them upright for the first few seasons had not been removed and were cutting deeply into the limbs. I freed the trees from their restraints and pulled back the dirt and mulch at their base. I almost heard a sigh of relief.
I was thinking about Sarah Palin working the crowds into a lather last week. For people to yell, “Kill him,” “traitor” and “terrorist” about Barack Obama was very troubling. Worse still was her inability or unwillingness to stop them. Mick Jagger stopped the Altamont rock concert in 1970 when the crowd became tragically unmanageable with a heartfelt, “People, please!”
I remember watching our black and white television in the 1950s after the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka supreme court decision in 1954. When those nine teenagers, with their national guard escort, were entering Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, I will never forget, until the day I die, the hatred in the words and on the faces of the white children shouting epithets at them. I was just a child myself, but a lifelong impression was etched in my mind. It is hard to fathom that 50 years later we are still in such a place of unreasonable fear.
While watching Morning Joe on Monday morning, Joe Scarborough and Andrea Mitchell laughed out loud at the absurdity of Paul Krugman being awarded the Nobel prize for economics. How ironic! Andrea Mitchell is married to Alan Greenspan.
On a lighter note, heard on NPR: What is the difference between a pigeon and a stockbroker? A pigeon can still make a deposit on a new Ferrari.