The Gardener Who Could Not Cook

It’s not easy being a gardener who can’t cook.

I have pots of gorgeous parsley, coriander, and watercress. I have trays of salad BLOG purple beansgreens and spinach. The rows of peas and carrots and beets and beans are pushing through. Pretty soon, we’ll have tomatoes and cucumbers and radishes.

The problem is, I have no idea what to do with this stuff.

Can you just eat a parsley?

I grew the watercress so I could be like my royal cousins and eat watercress sandwiches with my tea, but what do you put in a watercress sandwich? Just leaves? Or is there a special, royal brand of mayonnaise that one uses for this type of thing? tea timeAnd can you use a bulkie roll? Because that’s usually all we have in the house. Bulkie rolls and English muffins. Also, I usually drink coffee in the afternoons. Do watercress sandwiches on bulkie rolls or English muffins go with coffee? Something tells me I’m not doing this right.

I feel like I have to eat leaf after leaf of microgreens or all my gardening efforts will go to waste. Did I really just grow these trays of greens to toss them in the compost pile? What was the point?

Do not be too impressed. These pictures are from last year.
Do not be too impressed. These pictures are from last year.

And forget about preserving this stuff. If I can’t cook with it, I certainly don’t trust myself to can it and eat it safely at a later date. I am just the kind of inept cook who would preserve my beets and tomatoes along with a raging dose of botulism.

Not to worry about the potatoes, though. I can tell already that come potato harvest, I will have pounds and pounds of them. At this rate, I’ll be microwaving potatoes and garnishing them with parsley well into the New Year. potatoesinbowl

My Aging Neck: A Birthday Lament

I tried to warn Joe right from the beginning.

“Sure, I’m adorable now, but we Irish don’t age well,” I told him. “”You won’t be too happy with how I’m going to turn out.”

The women in his family have lovely, Italian, Mediterranean skin, and, I have come to believe, pictures of Dorian Gray in their closets. I knew I’d never be able to compete with that.

He didn’t seem to mind, or perhaps he didn’t believe me. I was 21 when we first met, but looked like I was about 12. In fact, some of his family objected to him dating someone so young. What kind of monster was he? “She’s a month younger than I am,” he insisted. They didn’t believe him. I invited them to my birthday party. They were somewhat mollified at the clear and present evidence (candles on my birthday cake, sworn testimony from my mother, a copy of my birth certificate) that I was no longer in middle school.

Still, they were skeptical, I could tell. Twenty-four years have passed since that birthday. I recently celebrated another one. There is no more skepticism. No one doubts my age anymore. My neck has let me down.

weddingIt used to be so lovely. I mean, look at it in my wedding photo. Isn’t it exquisite? No wonder Joe was fooled.

Now, it looks like this.

Kristin at Whispering Pines

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. This was taken at a funny angle when I was scrunching it up and creating the most “necks” possible.

It really looks like this.

Elsie and me

(I’m the one on the right. That’s my daughter with the pretty neck on the left.)

But change is coming, I can tell. You can see it, right? The arch is starting to fall. I try to push it back up with the back of my fingers now and then, but it won’t stay. Multiple-neck syndrome will one day be a reality.

I am reminded of a famous essay by Nora Ephron, I Feed Bad About My Neck. In it, she explains, “Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck.”

Of all the things that are toughest to hide, a droopy neck is the worst. At least living in New England gives me some options. I can wear turtlenecks from September to May, and I could take online classes to become a minister so that I could wear a clerical collar year round.


Or I could dress like the medieval princess that I am and let my snood cover it.

Or, I could just accept that I live on Earth and am susceptible to a powerful gravitational pull and that losing my perfect neck arch really isn’t my fault. I knew this would happen. I tried to warn Joe. He didn’t seem to care. Still doesn’t. I guess I won’t either.

As Ephron says in an essay about the death of her best friend, a droopy neck is no big deal, “Considering the Alternative.”

Steve Martin quote