Some years ago I planted some artichokes and its cousin, cardoon. I promptly lost the labels and could not tell them apart. The first year no chokes were formed but several wintered over and I was downright smug. I had no experience with cardoon so I assumed they were just tiny artichokes. Marie and I ate one. It was tiny and not at all wonderful. Eventually I figured out that none of the artichokes had survived that first winter but its hardy cousin has now reseeded and established itself all over the vegetable garden. Supposedly one eats the rib of a leaf sautéed. I gave it a try but have surrendered it to fabulous ornamental status. Violet took pictures of mine for the column this week.

There are a couple spots where I’ve noticed them. One is the Union street side of C.B. Stark Jewelry Store. There are several tucked into an interesting and lovely bed. Another is at the Larder on State Road opposite the bicycle shop. Do give the place a look over. There is Island-grown chicken, pork and duck not to mention prepared foods and some local produce.

I’m impressed with the stand of Lucifer crocosmia right before Alleys. I’ve had very good luck with crocosmia in my own garden—both reds and oranges. They make little bulbs so the stand grows exponentially over the years. Before I forget, I should mention the cicciola at the aforementioned Larder. It is an Italian pressed pork product meant to be spread on bread. I had some but no bread. I tossed a couple of spoonfuls into the sauté of vegetables I was preparing for a side dish. It immediately turned into an entrée, very creamy and flavorful.

I grow the Early Jersey Wakefield spring cabbage. I think I started them in February inside, put them out under Reemay at the end of March, and began picking before May 1. Rather than pull it out like some people do, I simply cut at the base. Now five perfect tiny cabbages have formed from that cut. How awesome is that?

I did a major zucchini picking. Most of my friends have their own in spades so it is time to store up for winter. A quick saute and then I ran them through the blender. I put five Mermaid Farm yogurt containers full of the puree into the freezer. They are a perfect addition to soups, stews and sauces mid-winter. I have found that freezing them in pieces leaves much to be desired in the texture department.

Across from the Thrift Store in Vineyard Haven there is a row of houses with tiny front yards. One of the occupants has loaded his tiny plot with a huge amount of flowers in a most pleasing combination.

I heard on NPR that Rome is experiencing a serious drought this year and is closing down many of the free-running water fountains called Nasoni which means Big Nose. Many date back to the ancient Romans. Present day Romans have no need to spend money to drink water out of plastic and then litter the planet with the empties. They are on to something. As one can imagine there is a lot of upset over this decision. No one wants the water to stop.

I have respect for John McCain and his service to our country. Five years in the Hanoi Hilton is above and beyond. However, he got up from his sick bed to hightail it back to D.C. to cast his vote in favor of repealing Obamacare. The senator, like his congressional colleagues, receives tax-funded state of the art healthcare and yet willingly will take it from millions of others. His cancer treatments are fully funded by me! I do not begrudge him. What about my friends?

A two-year, one term member of the House of Representatives receives that health care for the rest of their lives. How can anyone with any integrity think this is a good idea. Wait! I know, it’s one more thing with Obama’s name on it. After all, all Donald Trump has done so far is undo Obama’s executive orders to wit: Paris Climate Accord, relations with Cuba, regulations on coal-burning plants, ad nauseam. He would promptly get rid of sanctions on Russia if the timing were a bit better. Can’t wait to see the results of the Jeff Sessions kerfuffle!

Back, briefly, to John McCain. I do hold out hope for his moral compass to rule. The speech given after the vote seemed more like the old McCain. Perhaps in the end, he will vote no on Mitch McConnell’s secret bill. Hope springs eternal!