This spring I started seeds of a long, red, Italian radish variety called ‘Candela di Fuoco.’ They did well enough considering the strange weather that season — I ate the crunchy roots and sautéed the greens.
When two stragglers bolted in the heat, I let them go and ate their flowers. The plants continued to grow all through the summer, forming into wild masses of tentacled branches, bitter leaves, pretty flowers, and seedpods. These too were edible, and we ate them fresh and crunchy straight off of the plant and in salads until they became hard, mature, and unpalatable.
All photos in this post were taken by Davin Risk
These first two photos show a restricted access carnivorous plant room at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I found out later that I could have got a tour had I only asked!
I am tackling my New Year’s Resolution early. Doomsday predictors believe we only have a few days left — I should probably get busy.
Do something with all of the travel pictures. I’ve been fortunate enough to go on quite a few journeys over the last few years. Many were work-related, but when I could I tried to tack on a few extra days so that I could see a place that I had never been before and probably would never see again. No matter where I go, there is always something to see.
And so there are pictures. Heaps and heaps of pictures. I am buried alive in pictures. First there is the digital stuff. And you know how it is with digital. You snap away like a maniac and deal with it later. Or you don’t. Instead you look at it and think, “Seven hundred images. Ugh. I will do this later.” But later never comes. And then there is the film. These days it is abhorrently expensive to buy and even more expensive to develop. So I sit on it and roll it out in affordable chunks. Then I must endure the slow process of scanning it, image-by-image. Once that is done I am tired so I take a break that lasts indefinitely.
This is where, Do Something With All of the Travel Pictures, 2013!, comes in. It would be nice for some of those pictures to see the light of day, never mind the stories that accompany them. I want to tell more stories. That’s my other goal these days: Tell the Stories. There are many stories inside me that want to be told. Lately they have been punching at the walls inside my head, desperate to work their way out into the world. Some of these stories relate to small things like travel, plants, and food. But others are more complicated and so much harder to tell. I suppose the good thing here is that the drive to tell them has finally superseded the fear that my writing skills are not “good enough” to do them justice. I am working at it.
The entire block is festively adorned with swaying animatronic santas, flashy light extravaganzas, and colourful wreathes. There are plastic moulded nativity scenes, herds of wire-frame deer, fences wrapped up to resemble presents, and branches stuck into urns and tied around with oversized velvet bows. There are garlands, enough to form a line across the world and back. Garlands wrapped with ribbons, stuck with oscillating lights, and dotted with strange glittery baubles. There are holiday messages written on windows in spray snow from a can, and others spelled out in lights.
And then there is our house, the sore thumb. The sole, cheerless home on the block. Scourge of the neighbourhood. Don’t get me wrong, there are lights — a single, short string of white solar lights that illuminate feebly when and if it does at all, unable to collect enough sun energy through these long and bleak early winter days. It worked too well through the sunny, summer months, announcing our neglect loudly, “Here be your weird, lazy neighbours (or are they hippies? They don’t look like hippies…), too apathetic to bother removing their single, feeble attempt at Holiday participation. There they go. The couple that hates Christmas.”
Here’s a homemade holiday gift from the garden that there is still time to make. It took me about an hour and a half to make the caramel slab and I’ll probably be cutting and packaging individual caramels until the second coming, but it will have been worth it. To say that these are gorgeous and addictive is an understatement. The best way to savour them is to put one in your mouth and let it melt slowly. They’re buttery, sweet, and salty with just enough lavender and a taste of honey. I can’t get these packaged, wrapped, and out of here fast enough because I CAN’T STOP EATING THEM.
It was bought impulsively; one of those corner market jobs that catches your fancy from out of the corner of your eye. And it did, and I did, while walking home slightly inebriated from a decadent restaurant meal. (Worse things have happened under the influence of alcohol, I am sure.)
It shouldn’t have been outside in such cold weather, but that’s how they get you. And let’s face it, I can’t walk past a plant display without looking, no matter where it is and no matter the condition of the plants. And sometimes because of their condition.
“I will save you poor, mistreated plant!”
I always look. Always. And if I don’t stop to look, I at least scan. I am an expert scanner and can spot a diamond in the rough from across the street. I was reared on Midnight Madness Blue Light Special and have decades of thrift store shopping under the belt.
Like all corner market plants, the variety name is unknown. No tag or ID. Not meant to last. Enjoy it while it is in bloom and then toss it once the embarrassment of its ragged condition is enough to outweigh the guilt. Which is too bad really, since they are not terribly difficult to keep and can last decades, generations if you’re determined.
Here’s how to keep a Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) and even get it to rebloom: