Procession of the Produce

Olympia, WA originated a great parade in 1995, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Earth day. Dubbed “Procession of the Species”, there are only three rules regarding participation: no motor vehicles, no lettered signs –

The Skagit Valley Food Co-op is turning 35 this year, and inspired by our neighbors in Oly, we’re having a “Procession of the Produce” Parade, with artichokes and asparagus, mushrooms and butternut squash, watermelon and grapes, bees and honeycomb and blueberries. I’ve been hosting paper mache parties on fridays in the studio shop. Tonight Britt and Matthew and Shelley came over with Eva and Simone, two gorgeous little girls, to prepare Eva’s blueberry costume for the parade. Eva took off her dress and painted herself pink. Also some flower petals – while I tackled corn husks and bee wings.

We spun some dreams and ideas around, we caught up on old friends from when we were kids – the people convened and played together for a while. In honor of the joyful conversation, I offer this wiki-style research
into the nature of fruits and vegetables and legumes. :

The term fruit has many different meanings depending on context. In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary—together with seeds— of a flowering plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and the surrounding tissues. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate seeds.[1]

In cuisine, when food items are called “fruit”, the term is most often used for those plant fruits that are edible and sweet and fleshy, examples of which include plums, apples and oranges. But in cooking, the word fruit may also rarely be loosely applied to other parts of a plant, such as the stems of rhubarb, which are made into sweet pies, but which are not botanically a fruit at all.

Although the word fruit has limited use in cooking, in reality a great many common vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, are botanically speaking, the fruits of various plant species.[2] No single terminology really fits the enormous variety that is found among plant fruits.[3] The cuisine terminology for fruits is quite inexact and is likely to remain so.

The term false fruit (pseudocarp, accessory fruit) is sometimes applied to a fruit like the fig (a multiple-accessory fruit; see below) or to a plant structure that resembles a fruit but is not derived from a flower or flowers. Some gymnosperms, such as yew, have fleshy arils that resemble fruits and some junipers have berry-like, fleshy cones. The term “fruit” has also been inaccurately applied to the seed-containing female cones of many conifers.[4]

With most cultivated fruits, pollination is a vital part of fruit culture, and the lack of knowledge of pollinators and pollenizers can contribute to poor crops or poor quality crops. In a few species, the fruit may develop in the absence of pollination/fertilization, a process known as parthenocarpy.[5] Such fruits are seedless. A plant that does not produce fruit is known as acarpous, meaning “without fruit”.[6]

The term “vegetable” generally means the edible parts of plants. The definition of the word is traditional rather than scientific, however. Therefore the usage is somewhat arbitrary and subjective, as it is determined by individual cultural customs of food selection and food preparation.

Generally speaking, a herbaceous plant or plant part which is regularly eaten as unsweetened or salted food by humans is considered to be a vegetable. Mushrooms, though belonging to the biological kingdom Fungi, are also generally considered to be vegetables, at least in the retail industry.[1][2] Nuts, seeds, grains, herbs, spices and culinary fruits are usually not considered to be vegetables, even though all of them are edible parts of plants.

In general, vegetables are regarded by cooks as being suitable for savory or salted dishes, rather than sweet dishes, although there are many exceptions, such as pumpkin pie.

Some vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers (or Capsicum as they are known in Australia) and celery, are eaten either raw or cooked; while others, such as potato, are traditionally eaten only when cooked.

A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or a fruit of these plants. A legume fruit is a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces (opens along a seam) on two sides. A common name for this type of fruit is a “pod”, although pod is also applied to a few other fruit types, such as vanilla. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, and peanuts. A peanut is not a nut in the botanical sense; a peanut is an indehiscent legume, that is, one whose pod does not split open on its own.

Varieties of soybean seeds, a popular legume

Varieties of soybean seeds, a popular legume

Pea pods

Pea pods

The history of legumes is tied in closely with that of human civilization, appearing early in Asia, the Americas (the common bean, several varieties), and Europe (broad beans) by 6,000 BC, where they became a staple, essential for supplementing protein where there was not enough meat.

Legume plants are noteworthy for their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, an accomplishment attributable to a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria known as rhizobia found in root nodules of these plants. The ability to form this symbiosis reduces fertilizer costs for farmers and gardeners who grow legumes, and means that legumes can be used in a crop rotation to replenish soil that has been depleted of nitrogen.

Legume seed and foliage have a comparatively higher protein content than non-legume material, probably due to the additional nitrogen that legumes receive through nitrogen-fixation symbiosis. This high protein content makes them desirable crops in agriculture.

Farmed legumes can belong to numerous classes including forage, grain, blooms, pharmaceutical/industrial, fallow/green manure, and timber species, with most commercially farmed species filling two or more roles simultaneously.

  • Forage legumes are of two broad types. Some, like alfalfa, clover, vetch, stylo, or Arachis, are sown in pasture and grazed by livestock. Other forage legumes such as Leucaena or Albizia are woody shrub or tree species that are either broken down by livestock or regularly cut by humans to provide stock feed.
  • Grain legumes are cultivated for their seeds, and are also called pulses. The seeds are used for human and animal consumption or for the production of oils for industrial uses. Grain legumes include beans, lentils, lupins, peas, and peanuts.[1]
  • Bloom legume species include species such as lupin, which are farmed commercially for their blooms as well as being popular in gardens worldwide.
  • Industrial farmed legumes include Indigofera and Acacia species, which are cultivated for dye and food gum production respectively.
  • Fallow/green manure legume species are cultivated to be tilled back into the soil in order exploit the high nitrogen levels found in most legumes. Numerous legumes are farmed for this purpose including Leucaena, Cyamopsis, and Sesbania species.
  • Various legume species are farmed for timber production worldwide including numerous Acacia species, Erythroxylum species and Castanospermum australe.

The term is derived from the Latin word legumen (with the same meaning as the English term), which is in turn believed to come from the verb legere “to gather.” English borrowed the term from the French “légume,” which, however, has a wider meaning in the modern language and refers to any kind of vegetable; the English word legume being translated in French by the word légumineuse.

Legumes are good sources of iron and fiber.

All hail the plant kingdom.

After some time (arthritic culture poem)

The first curl of knuckles into unfamiliar fist / begins to set

a pattern in the synapses: here is how to respond / tuck in

and be ready. This great love of the wide world / doesn’t translate

well into the everyday details. The people at large/ are not graceful

but determined to claim stake. And who / can blame them?

We in this world have arrived in the midst / of disintegration

and we none of us thought carefully / before deciding to contribute –

we woke / to find ourselves / on the boat / already sinking.

Quick comes the impulse to save / what might be saved

the small pieces grow significant / the large movements

too late in arriving / so we will take what we can / even of peace.

It is the mute truth of our defeat / at the hands

of our greatest epic storied histories / how science

killed us with its material / how we killed

the world with our need to know / and to take.

The fist cannot form fully / the joints are already

too swollen to bend / or to straighten:

crooked fingers / poised and waiting.

Sunday of the Visitation

Sunday of the Visitation

A trip up to Bellingham brought old and other worlds together today. We gathered in Jess’ living room to begin a conversation about the language of power and the language of love related to this article: http://www.shambhalainstitute.org/Fieldnotes/issue-13-kahane

On my way home I turned right at the old familiar corner of F street and Dupont, and spied Dale the neocappadocian, that old lion, ambling down the road with a carton of coffee. I pulled over and gave him a ride home, where we shared wine on his small porch and talked snippets and places. He told me about the significance of the day – you can read about it for yourself at www.neocappadocians.blogspot.com – and we made a passable visit. We talked about ducks and raccoons and the sound that bugs make, about intergenerational groups and the making of world peace and how it doesn’t matter where we are when the shit goes down, we’ll be going down too.  Here’s a link to a story about Dale from one of the local papers – http://www.lovelycitizen.com/story/1397120.html

Brought back old times, did today. All my relations.

Puerto Rico, dawn to dusk

From Hunter S Thompson’s The Rum Diary, p.191

Those were the good mornings, when the sun was hot and the air was quick and promising, when the Real Business seemed right on t he verge of happening and I felt that if I went just a little faster I might overtake that bright and fleeting thing that was always just ahead.

Then came noon, and morning withered like a lost dream. The sweat was torture and the rest of the day was littered with the dead remains of all those things that might have happened, but couldn’t stand the heat. When the sun got hot enough it burned away all the illusions and i saw the place as it was – cheap, sullen, and garish – nothing good was going to happen here.

Sometimes at dusk, when you were trying to relax and not think about the general stagnation, the garbage God would gather a handful of those choked-off morning hopes and dangle them somewhere just out of reach; they would hang in the breeze and make a sound like delicate glass bells, reminding you of something you never quite got hold of, and never would. It was a maddening image, and the only way to whip it was to hang on until dusk and banish the ghosts with rum. Often it was easier not to wait, so the drinking would begin at noon. It didn’t help much, as I recall, except that sometimes it made the day go a little faster.

Azul?

what it must be like to paint in spanish/ the colors unsame? the blue in the sea of cortez remains/ untranslated

and skagit blue is not the same / this northern valley

claimed from an inland sound / the soft clay soil / diked

and waiting for seed. what simple blue this sky/ breathes

in and out / salt breezes/ riding on/ rising /birdsound / brightcloud / cowpoop

sometimes the coyotes come down from the hills and cross/ the fields

to fish for ducks in the light fading behind the islands.

do the mexican coyotes too/ descend from hill to shore

in search of ducks floating on the bright blue cortezian sea?

You turn me right round baby right round like a record baby right round round now

I’m contemplating an aikido move. Or at least that’s what the process of taking one energy and shifting it – Using it – seems like to me, based upon what I remember of hearing about Aikido from the folks who actually know… that aikido is about learning how to fall, and also about taking the momentum coming at you from an opponent and using it to let them take themselves down, or to take you up.

Anyhoo –

This site gets spammed an awful lot – insurance and gambling spam mostly – and it’s been a point of frustration for years now, the insectish idiocy, the nuisance. There was another one this afternoon and it came in as response to a post from from few years back called “A Long Ways From The Queen of May”. I deleted it and then I went visiting the post.

As it was May Day yesterday, we had a small bonfire in the back yard and sang a few songs: sea shanties from Shaun, a beautiful one that Katie wrote about breathing in this each moment, and Angel From Montgomery, which is my perennial favorite. I don’t know it, but I love to sing along. I burned a card from Ketchikan and lit a Eucalyptus leaf like incense, while I talked a little bit about Tim. It’s curious to me which facts remain persistent when I speak to new folk about that relationship, that time, that man. I am always somewhat self-conscious and also listening to myself for insights into what I believe about it now, and how my perspective is shifting or enduring.

So then this afternoon I pay attention to the spam and go visit the story from two years ago, about two years before. As I read I am wracking my brain to remember how I spent last year’s May Day. There was a Beltane party, but my point of view, my place in it eludes me. The post’s story brings those other years right back into mind. One storm in particular, but all the days building up to it. One man in particular, but all the intimacies that go before and after.

And the bathroom in that house in NE PDX. The dismantling of fixtures, the pulling of tacks, the stickers on the wall of the kid’s room downstairs, the vacuuming the tape the paint the brushes. The color tequila. That morning with the steamer on the shiny fern wallpaper. Vivid. And blurring with the houses before and after, the old wood one where TC on a ladder yelled at me because I was getting paid more than he was. The news of the war coming through on the radio. The Rachael Corrie play cancelled in NYC.

And after all the accumulated shit, spilling out of the closet under the stairs and topsy turvy in the garage went away, the feel of the blank tequila covered walls by great contrast of calm. The fresh start.

Jill last night by the fire was so matter-of-fact. “It’s May” she said, repeatedly. As in, ‘it’s different now’, ‘we’ve turned a corner in to action, the sun’s caught up, we’re here, we’re celebrating.’

We’re past enduring. Now we build up to the harvest.

Dandelion Remedies

In spite of so many things, I love America – in theory and all that jazz about the right to life liberty and the pursuit of – (oh no, wait, this is where we went wrong and gave ourselves full liberty to pursue happiness at the cost of people in countries that are not american)

yet also in the particular glow that certain faces shine when they are being most animatedly themselves. On fire with something. Call it pursuit of happiness if you must – I’m going to borrow a term from a fantasy book about shapechangers, called Cheysuli, who make decisions based upon their intuitive sense of tahlmorra, or fate. These are not generally the easy decisions you know – the ones that fate determines – these are the ones that call for steppin up. And the pursuit of happiness on the soul levels can kindle this kind of glow.

So I do love America, even when it persists in trying to demonize and spray with toxic shit a plant like dandelion, whose origins are a bit mysterious, and who offers a veritable plethora of helping healing remedies for those of us brave enough to refrain from mowing or spraying and choosing instead to dig it out by the roots in the spring and treat ourselves – remedy-style.

This quoting came from www.altnature.com/gallery/dandelion.htm

Did you have any idea that those weeds sprouting up in the grass all over might also fade your freckles? (Not that anyone Here is looking to do any freckle fading, I’m just sayin -)

Dandelion Habitat and Descripton

Dandelion is a perennial herb thought to be introduced from Europe and Asia. It is now naturalized throughout the Northern Hemisphere. No one is sure exactly how the dandelion has spread so widely, and there is some debate on the origin of the plant.

When placed in a paper bag with unripe fruit, the flowers and leaves of Dandelion release ethylene gas ripening the fruit quickly. A liquid plant food is made from the root and leaves. A dark red dye is obtained from Dandelion root. A cosmetic skin lotion made from the appendages at the base of the leaf blades distilled in water, is used to clear the skin and is effective in fading freckles.

Dandelion Herbal use and Medicinal Properties

The whole plant is used as a medicinal herb internally and externally.

External Uses

The fresh juice of Dandelion is applied externally to fight bacteria and help heal wounds. The plant has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphococcus aureus, pneumococci, meningococci, Bacillus dysenteriae, B. typhi, C. diphtheriae, proteus. The latex contained in the plant sap can be used to remove corns and warts.

Internal Uses

Dandelion is also used for the treatment of the gall bladder, kidney and urinary disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis, hypoglycemia, dyspepsia with constipation, edema associated with high blood pressure and heart weakness, chronic joint and skin complaints, gout, eczema and acne. As a tonic, Dandelion strengthens the kidneys. An infusion of the root encourages the steady elimination of toxins from the body. Dandelion is a powerful diuretic but does not deplete the body of potassium.

Research is revealing that the many constituents of Dandelion including Taraxacin, Taraxacoside, Inulin, Phenolic acids, Sesquiterpene lactones, Triterpenes, Coumarins, Catortenoids and Minerals, mainly Potassium and calcium, are very valuable in curing a number of disorders and illnesses. Dandelion is traditionally used as a tonic and blood purifier, for constipation, inflammatory skin conditions, joint pain, eczema and liver dysfunction, including liver conditions such as hepatitis and jaundice.

Weed? Okay, if you say so.

Now somebody tell me what to do with the thistles.

Nettle Soup

When they first shoot up, the purple tips of new spring nettles curl to a point with a frill and swirl, like soft serve ice cream. I went trimming nettle tips last night, from the patch in the back 1/4 acre. Nettle, mint, and thistle – this is how the garden wants to grow. All winter the sentinel plants have been silent, rooted beneath the soil and waiting. And in this interminably slow spring, they are the first heralding of all the wild green sprouting to follow.

And they will win. I know that now. last spring I was still hopeful that some tugging and clearing on my part would balance the scales. Then I watched the the skin on my arms burn and blister from thistle toxin, felt the nettle sting reverberate for days on the pad of my thumb, tasted the mint frolic from the mound by the hammock, and accepted that something in this soil, stronger longer deeper than mere human insistence, would persevere to make mockery of my intentions.

Good to know where I stand.

The mint I’ve made my peace with, easy to do with mint: harvest and dry, muddle fresh into Hendricks gin and tonics, sip in the hammock while gazing upon the slow passing of an afternoon.

The thistles – I’m soliciting advice, from all sides. Being Scottish, I may take a certain pride of association with their ambitious tenacity, but mostly they make me nervous.

The nettles – well I’m harvesting them for tea, and offering a nettle soup recipes from last year’s Spring Co-op newsletter. They are full of calcium, magnesium, chromium, iron, and B vitamins. Harvest them before they flower. Wear gloves.

Nettle Soup:

1 quart young nettle tops, rinsed *5 cups stock or water * 1/4 cup cooked brown rice * 1 carrot * 1 onion * 1 celery * 2 cloves minced garlic * 1/2-1 cup warmed milk if you want a creamy soup * olive oil for sauteing * salt and pepper to taste

Pick and clean the nettles. Slice onion, carrot and celery; saute in oil with garlic. Add rice and toast briefly. Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Add nettles and simmer 10-15 minutes. Blend, add warmed milk, season with salt and pepper.

For straight up nettle mint juice:

Pick, dry and crush 4 parts nettle to one part mint and treat as loose leaf tea. Heating will lose you some nutrients, so you can steep the mixture in a glass jar for 10-15 minutes and drink cold.

Dandelion remedies, coming up next…

Live

Been cleaning out paper this weekend. Redecorating a space or two, keeping my hand in and my eye alive, saying hello to the books. I found this poem copied on the back of a handbill for a New Year’s show at the Grand Ave Ale House that the High, Wide, and Handsome Band did a few years back. The quote on the front of the handbill, superimposed on a photo of a man dressed in marching band regalia and wearing a clown nose, reads:

“the barwalker was the type of drunk who was not happy unless he was up on a sagging     bar, arms akimbo, dancing a cossack dance and kicking over glasses of beer.”

– Joseph Mitchell

The poem on the back, which I cannot remember copying down, is by a woman I’ve not heard of, and untitled:

I will not live an unlived life./ I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire./ I choose to inhabit my days,/ to allow my living to open me,

to make me less afraid, more accessible,/ to loosen my heart/ until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise./ I choose to risk my significance;

to live,/ so that which came to me as a seed/goes to the next as a blossom,/ and that which came to me as blossom,/ goes on as fruit.

– Dawna Markova

Take Light

Some mornings, the ducks are swimming in thin mirrored slivers of liquid sky and my legs are engines of true progress as the road flies by beneath the rhythm of my feet, moving land, and my lungs, moving air.

Some mornings, the duck are barely floating in field mud and I can’t make it out the door. Early February looks so dark from here. Even my dreams are dim, the force and place obscured by the weight of a cloud wall that lurks behind Blanchard mountain and makes frenetic forays of wind and lashes of rain on the flat valley ground.

In this light, everything – the tree bare the grass clumped the pavement dark and soaking – looks flat and forlorn. When the warm light returns this same tree will beam munificently with fresh green on its limbs and the grass will wave lengthy in the light breeze.

The world the same the world separated by vast differences in perspective. I don’t love it equally, I don’t. I want to – but more I want to be running, always, with the bright glow of something rising. And the ducks in their puddled field, they’ll never say how it seems to them, though we want to believe that it all just rolls off of their downy backs.