How does your garden grow?
There are certain things in life that bring us undeniable joy....and oh, how many of them involve food! For you, it could be the bliss that can only be found when presented with a heaping, steaming plate of Sunday dinner, piled high with new potatoes, a haystack of cabbage and the star of the show, Mr. Salt Meat. For others, it might be a deliciously hot cup of sweet tea accompanied by a buttery slice of toast as you lazily peruse the morning news (or Facebook!) to start what you're sure will be a good day. For me, sitting on the cliffs on a sparkly Saturday afternoon with a bit of dark chocolate in hand is as thrilling as any gourmet meal. These little bits of culinary magic are unique to who we are and the story of our lives. Summer has inspired Chris and I to grow the food that we love so much so ... we have decided to try our hand at gardening. For many, gardening is a peaceful pursuit, filling Spring and Summer afternoons with sowing, watering, tending and hopefully by Fall, harvesting! Branch is home to such peaceful patrons of the garden, including Donnie and Maureen whose gardens are testaments to how time and love, provided in good measure, can nurture everything from the humble pansies to the showy tulips. For the two of us over here on the wild shores of the Easter' Cove, this isn't our first time to try and coax life out of the rocky soil of the red point. We've made beds on the cliffs, in buckets, in pots and every Winter, in our minds. Gardening over here has been a lesson in the art of persistence. Last year, we succeeded, thanks be to God! We moved our potatoes from their admittedly edgy home on the cliffs to a gentler, sheltered location. And they grew. Excited by our potato success, we hauled out a few fish pans and tried our newly green thumbs at lettuce. And that grew! In fact, we had enough lettuce last year to feed a small vegetarian country for a year at least! I was reminded of hearty, home-grown, homemade non- supermarket food again this weekend as Mike' sister, Karen, sat at our kitchen table and in a manner that could only be described as delightfully confident, shared with me a traditional Harbour Round recipe for blood pudding. This recipe, like the earthy vegetables that burst forth from the garden beds, spoke of the tradition of growing and making food. The recipe celebrated succulent ingredients like pork fat, pungent onions, cubed bread, sweet cinnamon, aromatic allspice and of course, the iron rich blood of a moose. I could almost see this traditional dish served on a trapezoidal plate at Raymond's, accented by a zig zag of turnip and a shy leaf of kale. So yes, food is central to our lives. It anchors as many conversations nowadays as does the weather. But at the end of the day, it's more about nourishment than tastebuds; nourishment of the pieces of ourselves that unite to form who we are and how we live in what L.M. Montgomery called this "dear old world." So if it's a savoury blood pudding, a bed of potatoes, a chat with a friend over a hotdog and fries or an evening cup of tea with your beloved while watching the boats head out, ensure that you feed your body and soul each day and as MFK Fisher asks, share that nourishment in any way you can, "One of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, with my brain and hands, have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world." Using a potent recipe of love, persistence and patience, we have been able to coax a green, growing garden out of a rocky patch of soil. I hope that you can do the same in this season of growth, for your body and your soul.