Sunday, April 25, 2010


Today we did yard work under a daunting blue sky. M cleaned out the chicken coops and ushered wee baby chicks into the world; I declared war - again - against the mint in the front yard. And I dragged the withered corpse of our lemon tree out of its corner in our living room to its final resting place behind the garden. I didn't mean to kill the lemon tree last winter; we'd kept it alive for eleven years, through moving and getting married and having babies, but somehow, this year, saving it from deep frost was beyond us. In December, only a dry skeleton remained standing upright in the green pot on the porch. I remember M looking at me oddly when I brought the obviously dead tree inside, but the guilt, the guilt. It only ever bore two lemons for us; the real treasure was found in its leaves. When you folded one in half and brought it to your nose, you could smell a bright July day, clean yellow sheets dried on the line, ice-cold brewed tea and the sweet tartness of worldly well-being. I used to carry a leaf or two in my pocket during drab winter as a reminder of barefoot days to come - I will miss that.

Why is it that recipes seem to call for rhubarb and strawberries, or any other kind of fruit you may happen to have on hand? The sweet may balance out the tart, but sometimes it's nice to let one particular flavor shine. Does it always need to be peanut butter and jelly or salt and pepper? Maybe mix it up, try introducing your peanut butter to a banana and then maybe to some honey for an interesting threesome. Your pepper might enjoy meeting ginger, at least they seem to get along in Dorrie Greenspan's cookies. And as for the rhubarb, go for straight up. Boil it down for syrup that you can add to selzer or soda. Fruit, we don't need no stinkin' fruit - around here we like it tart!

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