Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Smells like...

I was frazzled earlier this week.

Canning jam can do that.

Trying to pull off more than I am used to can do that.Defending caterpillars against the Hub's insistence they "look" like they'd eat tomato plants, only to discover after losing track of where they went that yes, indeed, these sphinx moth larvae will potentially eat tomato plants, can do that.

Putting together ingredients for chicken stock that look old and tired and done for trusting that every chef I've ever read who says that is precisely what these "past their prime" ingredients are good for, can do that.

But now?

The jam set. In a few minutes I will toast bread and enjoy the first taste of the results of a few hours spent in the kitchen that will continue to provide rewards for a year or so.Despite some fretting I am happy to have provided what seemed to be a positive celebratory experience for what many consider a milestone birthday for my son who has not had an entirely smooth past couple of months.

I found and relocated the two largest of the three potential tomato eating caterpillars far away from my pepper and tomato plants. I successfully identified the plant they were munching on. Euphorbia dentata.

I suck at identification so to have discovered what type of caterpillar and what type of plant is a true victory for me. I submitted photos to the website that helped me ID the caterpillars and helped them expand the host plant listing and that felt good.Most importantly I realized, finally, that this is precisely what we had been hoping would happen in the back garden beds.

We have been seeding in butterfly attracting and native wildflower plants for several seasons running and...it worked! We now have moths nectaring in the back area and laying eggs as the three sphinx moth caterpillars spotted yesterday prove. We actually do have a wildlife habitat establishing itself, by golly. Sidebar: they never label the flower seeds as Moth Attracting because we, myself included, are typically such speciesists. Moths are important too only not so acceptably gorgeous. I am a little ashamed to admit I feel that way but there you have it.

The chicken stock smells amazing. It is making my mouth water and has me thinking with excitement about what I will cook for us over the next few days. It has been a while since I was excited about cooking anything, well, except for the carnitas, and I put more pressure on myself for that than I should.

"It is just dinner" you might say and you'd be right. Only every time I try something new and assure others in my family that "this will be great!" I feel as though I am setting up a test. If I somehow fail that test, well I don't know what exactly would be so awful about that, but I know I don't want that. To fail. At anything. Ever.

Everything is not perfect today but for me, that is what makes these moments of contentment so rich and rare. Perfection, the elusive bar I struggle not to consistently set for myself, has nothing to do with the way I feel just now.

So. Today. Just for a bit. I am feeling, well, successful. I have jam made. I have chicken stock cooking.I have garden beds that are feeding insects and people's physical bodies as well as their spirits, their sense of beauty. I let my son know in a hundred different ways that I love him and support him and am proud of him. Same goes for Law School Girl who survived her first year, finals, and will soon be driving back cross country, coming home to us for the summer.

It feels good just to write the words. Home for the summer.

I have a loving family and I will get to see them each over the summer without it being a big deal. What could make for a happier Mother's Day weekend than knowing that to be true? Over at A Season for Everything I posted a poem for Mother's Day. You'll find it here if you are interested. Otherwise, won't you stop and smell the stock cooking, and together let us mull over how lovely these small victories of life can really be.


Mayberry Magpie said...

I am struggling today with gratitude and the demands of perfection. I needed this post. Thank you.

bee said...

that jam looks lovely. hope you had a great mother's day weekend.