Thursday, July 7, 2011

Alpha & Omega - or The Return of the Dakota Diner

I’ve experienced a hibernation of sorts these past few months. The muse was frozen I think. But the 24 hours that passes for springtime in South Dakota is history and summer is here in earnest. My writing-self has thawed out and is coming back to life.

Just like the gardens. Somewhere along about the end of April we had the last of the butternut squash from autumn 2010 (Butternut Squash Lasagna). The next day we had the first of the asparagus in Asparagus Risotto. Thick crunchy stalks heavy with the promise of garden’s bounty nestled in Arborio rice swollen with white wine and chicken stock and swept up in parmiggiano-reggiano.

Autumn squash and spring asparagus. The Alpha and Omega of the gardening life.
Now at the first of July we are full swing into broccoli, lettuce, spinach, and radishes. Hot weather started very late this year. But bad weather news for the strawberries – wet cold does not make for sweet, ripe, and juicy – is glory for the cool weather crops – the greens and the coles (broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, and cauliflower).

I see the cycle of seasons more clearly here in South Dakota. Must be because winter is a definite season. Not the wishy-washy damp cold with an occasional burst of snow that I remember of Ohio winters, and even West Virginia winters. There is never ambiguity in South Dakota winters. Alas, spring is short-lived - . a quick sweet breath and poof! – it’s gone. Grab it quick because your next breath bears the heat of prairie grass baking in the sun.

The apple trees and peach trees we planted last summer are leafing out. They survived their first South Dakota winter. The elderly apple tree that’s been in the backyard for an indeterminate length of time has leafed out as well. No blossoms this year though. We had a bumper group of apples last fall. The elderly apple still wobbles perilously under the edict of my Farmer-Architect who is threatening to dispatch it if it can’t produce.

The fingerling potatoes I bought at the Sioux Falls Farmers Market last fall and then promptly forgot about in the back of the kitchen cabinet all winter put forth impressive shoots from their numerous eyes. They are coming to new life in the backyard garden, securely fenced in and safe from marauding squirrels with a taste for spuds.

The circle of life. I am so blessed to be living it every day on the prairie and in the gardens. And now I share it with you in my writing.


  1. Mickie, So nice to see you back after that long snooze! Sounds as though you have been productive in other ways, planting, harvesting, and enduring weather's unpredictable predictability. You are such a talent! Thinking of you. Deloris

  2. Good to see you back at the keyboard!