Monday, September 6, 2010

Limits and Benefits

I have been thinking this long weekend about benefits and limitations. Most of the time, I don't mind my age (49 ½): I'm a far happier person than I was in my 20s, I like my self and my life more than ever, and I finally realized that most of the things I've worried about have never come to pass. I like my grey hair, I don't mind the lines in my face, but I do hate the physical limitations imposed by arthritis, especially that in my right hand. I don't like to complain (Mama would not approve), but it's incredibly irritating not to be able to open a can or a bottle of wine, not to be able to do the work I want to do in my garden, not to be able to write legibly with a pen for more than a few lines. I used to wonder what was the point of electric can openers; now I know. Still, I am fortunate to have a partner who is kind enough to help me with things that are too difficult for me.  On our first day off together in months, we picked blackberries, divided irises, and got a number of chores done around the house while enjoying the chance to do these very mundane things together.

But enough whining. One thing I can still do is bake, and bake I did. One of the benefits of the cooler weather we're having is being able to turn on the oven without making the house miserably hot. So I used one of the two quarts of blackberries we picked to make the cobbler shown above, using Orangette's recipe (and using my food processor to make the dough rather than "rubbing" in the butter with my fingers). Today, I made cowboy cookies, a kind of chocolate chip oatmeal cookie with pecans and coconut.

Tea in the garden with Gibbon

Do we ever stop feeling like September is the beginning of a new year? Of course, it is in the Jewish calendar (Happy Rosh Hashanah!), and years of beginning a new school year right after Labor Day make it seem like a new beginning to me. For some time, I've been wanting to read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Working for an antiquarian book dealer, I've had the opportunity to catalogue a number of sets of Gibbon, and have snatched a glimpse at passages, enough to be in awe of his writing style. I was wandering through the library yesterday when I saw it on the shelf and thought, no time like the present. I'm 50 pages in, and enjoying it immensely. We'll see if I like it enough to soldier through over 3,000 pages. The beginning of fall, and the start of another intellectual endeavor.

Cimicifuga with bee feeding frenzy
The bees and hummingbirds seem to be working overtime in the garden--the former especially enamored of my cimicifuga (common name, ironically enough, "bug bane"). The large black dots you see on the feathery white flowers? Bees. Not flying, not buzzing about, but sitting on the flowers soaking up nectar. It's like a bee opium den. The hummingbirds adore the monarda ("bee balm") and the hyssop, while the little finches are enjoying the seedpods on the cornflowers. Our grape arbor was raided of all edible fruit, most likely by crows, the only birds I've seen around the garden that are big enough to do the kind of damage they did. No doubt they're eyeing my fig tree. If the figs ever get a chance to ripen, I hope I can harvest some before the birds do.  The challenges of nature. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh, your cobbler looks lovely. I've re-discovered the joys of cobblers this summer. I used to be the cobbler making queen in my teenage years. (How's that for a title -- not homecoming queen, not drama queen, but cobbler-making queen!) Then I stopeed making them because my husband doesn't really like desserts and my little boys always chose fresh fruit over cooked fruit. It was not a good idea to make a whole cobbler and eat it all myself. But I've finally manged to convince my boys that mama's cobbler really is The Bomb. Yay for cobblers!