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Awaken the Senses

By Loni Kemp

Fri, Aug 17th, 2012
Posted in All Columnists

I had been working at the computer all day, living only inside my head and stuck in the chair. Returning to the real world, I glance out the open window to the lush green treetops swaying in the breeze. The call of a blue jay pierces the air. A squirrel scampers along the limb of a tree, severing acorns which fall to the deck with a loud crack. I rise and move my creaky neck, realizing I need a break.

I don the appropriate garden shoes for the day, all piled conveniently by the door so I don’t forget and accidentally step out in clean shoes, for inevitably they will become coated with soil and grass clippings. Shall it be sandals, waterproof crocs, tennis shoes, hiking boots—today is a sandal day.

Stepping out onto the shady boardwalk, I immediately take in the green smell of summer. The heat wave is past and the fresh air now brings an invitation to venture out. Sure enough, the deck is peppered with acorns and bits of those laboriously chewed open by the squirrels. I grab the broom from the woodshed and quickly sweep everything clean. Swinging my arms and following the daily pattern around patio furniture I manage to tidy things up and get my blood flowing.

Moving out into the sunshine, I take in the warmth and the full landscape of our hidden hilltop. Beyond the lawn is the full spread of the garden, flowers in full bloom and towers of tomatoes and beans reaching high. Beyond that rise the apple trees with apples visible as they begin to turn red. The towering pine trees, now nearly thirty years old, punctuate the view. Behind it all is the sheep pasture, and I glimpse the quietly grazing sheep and lambs as they do their work tidying up the formerly rampant pasture, no longer full of wild parsley.

Moving into the garden beds, I notice white moths fluttering over the cabbage and broccoli, warning of the coming green cabbage worms. I also see an occasional Monarch and yellow swallowtail butterfly, madly moving from this flower to that. I listen closely to a buzzing noise and zero in on a humming bird working showy pink hibiscus flowers. I pluck a few of the blooms, intending to make some ice tea. That thought leads me to the mint and the lemon verbena, so I gather a few branches, bruising the leaves and taking in the distinctive aromas which will permeate the tea.

The birds are calling from all around, little brown birds I find hard to identify. Wrens and small sparrows leave nests tucked in the trees and bushes all over the garden. I am grateful for their cheerful presence and glad to provide all the garden pests they need for a healthy diet.

My eye is drawn to the ripe red tomatoes, so I grab a bucket and begin to fill it. Each tomato is heavy and warm to my hand, fragrant with tomato-ness. The little red Matt’s tomatoes and aptly named Sungold tomatoes beg to be popped directly into my mouth, releasing a sweet explosion of summer flavor.

The melon bed is a mess of discolored and wilting leaves caused by some blight, but no matter. There are dozens of cantaloupes, honeydews and watermelons now lying in the sun. I tiptoe between the vines, hefting the orbs to determine which will slip off the vine, indicating they are as ripe as they are going to get. The basket is overflowing with the heady scent of musky muskmelons.

I kick off my sandals and walk over the cool, soft grass to lay back in the sun-warmed Adirondack chair. I close my eyes and take in the sensations through my skin, ears and nose. My mind is empty, taking in the here and now.


Drop 2 cloves garlic and a teaspoon of salt into a running food processor to mince. Add three cups tightly packed basil leaves and 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts. Process into a paste. Drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil and puree.

At this point pesto can be frozen. Drop tablespoon sized blobs onto a wax paper-covered cookie sheet and freeze. Frozen chunks can be stored in a ziplock bag for future use on pizzas, pasta, bread, soups and salads. Add parmesan cheese when preparing.

To use fresh pesto, mix in 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan. Leftover pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, covered with a film of oil.


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4:54:37, Aug 24th 2012

Linda says:
wonderfully sensual trip through your garden - you're lucky to live there!

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