Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Sedge of Cranes...and pasta & beans

Spring is just beginning. When opening my office shutters in the morning, I see the daffodils' indomitable splash of sunshine, even on a cloudy, wet day which unfortunately are most days because of this never-ending bout of weather which should be more at home in Britain than France. Not that the poor sods across the channel need to be any more sodden then they already are what with the flooding and such happening over there. 

The rose bush in the foreground is leafing out along with irises on the right

They say, there's sunniness to spare, go ahead and bring some of us indoors, and I do, along with their fresh, flowery fragrance.

The daily deluge has engorged the sweet violets with such an abundance of water that they are naturalizing partout, another sign spring is having its fresh way with our garden.

But the most startling and delightful harbinger are the cranes migrating from North Africa for the last several days. Their pronounced honking gives ample warning for me to dash upstairs and get the telephoto lens. 

The group I had spotted before my indoor sprint still was far away so I was confused why they sounded like they were overhead. Monsieur M  popped out of his atelier at the back of his garden and said, can you hear them? Yes, I replied while pointing to the cranes off in the distance. Non, non, said Monsieur M. He pointed directly overhead to many cranes seemingly hovering in one place.

Then my guys flew in.

Keeping a tight formation, they joined the others.

Birds are an integral part of my gardening life, and I do my best to help them out. Leaving berries on bushes for them is one way. Ivy is a boon in that regard, because they form and hold their fruit way after most other plants have gone barren.

Ceci n'est pas a blueberry plant

Another supportive measure for avian life is keeping a wild area. Some starlings, probably close to a hundred, are wont to hide in the mountain of brambles in the back of our garden, twittering away unseen.

Some of the grape vines in the foreground are not covered with nets so the birds can have a tasty 'drink'

Being busy preparing for spring planting and sowing indoors--the tomatoes are now in the incubator--means I am still focused on easy, fast, hot meals and pasta and beans is such a dish. While some linguine is on the boil, saute a minced garlic clove or two or three in a tablespoon or so of olive oil for a minute or two. Add and simmer together for about ten minutes: a frozen cube of homemade chicken/veggie stock (store-bought can be subbed), a tablespoon or so of tomato paste, heaps of basil (there's still ample frozen basil from last summer's harvest), a tablespoon or so of reserved pasta water, and some rinsed, canned white beans. Drain the cooked pasta and mix with the sauce. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Really. Good. Stuff.

The first harvest of rhubarb was happily done. The title of this post was supposed to be Rhubarb Souffle, but the silly thing decided suddenly to inflate with a vengeance and then almost just as abruptly deflate with a determined malfeasance. No rhubarb souffle for us! At least, not this week as I will try again.

À la prochaine!