Thursday, July 9, 2009


My small, shady garden has a delicious secret this year. Tucked behind the lavender hedge, below the mountain ash tree is a patch of bush beans - green, yellow, purple. The purple are a glistening deep regal color that glows with the shifting sun like the color of grape juice. They are by far my favorite. Crisp, shiny, tasty - and surprising in that I really had little hope I'd get a crop - too shady I thought. This is one of the times I'm glad to be proven wrong about something.

Aren't they spectacular? I've been picking a fist full of lovely fresh beans twice a day all week. We've enjoyed them stir fried with garlic and Walla Walla Sweet onions, made into bean salad, and today as a key participant in chicken vegetable soup. I'm feeling quite the farmer. When will we begin to tire of beans every meal? Hard to tell but should that unlikely thing come to pass my freezer will fill up with bright beans to enjoy on dark winter days.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Pleasure Dome

(son Paul and cousin Eric "skin" the dome)
"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea."
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

During the past month while I continued to struggle with computer/internet problems a second major project was in the works around here - the creation of my poetic get-away, The Pleasure Dome (son Paul christened it). Years ago my friend Rick gave me the makin's of a geodesic dome, a wooden framework we bolted together at the bottom of my back garden. We stapled greenhouse plastic over the frame and for 3 or 4 years I used the dome to grow bushels of sweet tomatoes and spicy peppers. But the plastic eventually started to disintegrate - after I stripped it off, the dome was a rather odd sculpture for the next few years.

Then this spring, with retirement looming and visions of glorious produce firing my imagination, I decided it was time to set up the greenhouse once again. Unfortunately I hadn't taken into consideration how my garden had changed over the intervening years. The trees had closed over the top of the dome, making it too shady to grow much beyond ferns and moss. To grow sun-lovers like tomatoes I'd have to remove two Western hemlock trees, limb up the English oak and the Chinese juniper, chop down the neighbor's sick old apple tree. Major forestry. None of which was going to happen. What to do?

Change plans, of course! My greenhouse would transform into a place of peaceful refuge where I can sit and write (as well as surf the internet if I can ever manage to get the wireless thingy up and running), listen to birds in the sheltering branches, decompress! I've run a long extension cord from the house, hung Chinese lanterns, arranged furniture, plugged in a fan. There is one tomato plant just because. Oh, the comfort! Tonight as fireworks light up the sky I'll be in the Pleasure Dome writing a poem to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.