A dozen dahlias

Indira Ganesan, Dahlia 2020

Kelsey Annie Joy. Willo. Cafe au Lait. Creme de Cassis. Creme de Cognac. Juanita. Scandinavian Brocade. Polka. Ella Grace. Clearview Cameron. Totally Tangerine. Pam Howden. All planted, some in an experimental two to a pot, some in experimental shade. When I went to plant the tubers, I saw a stick in the yard and thought, hope there are no snakes out. Lo and behold, Emily Dickinson’s narrow fellow in the grass slithered by, except on the porch stairs. I looked for reinforcements, found a neighbor, and together we watched it slide into the garden. I pulled on my snow boots, and started Operation Dahlia.

That was yesterday. Today, I attacked the aphids which covered the roses ( I used neem oil and Castile soap,) finally fed the roses, potted up some basil, and cleaned out some containers. I thought of how easy it is to demonize aphids.

As I revise this post, Israel has killed 400 Palestinians in just one week, 30% of them children. Children who might have grown to become doctors, parents, mathematicians.

Whenever I read the news, I wonder what is the point about writing about gardening and cooking. These domestic tasks keep my days going, but they pale against the importance of world trauma. I keep going.

I vacuumed my apartment, and ignored the laundry. I went to the garden store for more potting soil but once there, realized I never took out the bags I already bought from the car trunk. I came home with an assortment of tiny fuchsia plugs instead.

Tonight I pulled out Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy for cauliflower inspiration. Her saffron infused pasta dish looked perfect, but I took liberties. I roasted the cauliflower first. Then, I sliced shallot and sautéed it in butter with saffron threads. Just as she promised, the heat released the spice’s flavor and color. I added red pepper flakes with a lot of garlic, and let the flavors carmelize a bit. Instead of mini shells, I used cous-cous, and finished the dish with some cheddar from the fridge. At the last minute, I added a teaspoon of tomato Achaar from Brooklyn Delhi for an extra kick, turned on Gardener’s World, and ate.

Small Big Things

Indira Ganesan, Trillium, 2021

The garbage trucks never stopped picking up the weekly trash in my neighborhood. When we moved into semi-shutdown and mask-mandates last year, the third week of March 2020, the guys still picked up the garbage. This small act of normalcy lifted my spirits. Back then, when we knew so little about Covid-19, and how it might be transmitted, the garbage workers continued on. I am still amazed by this act of routine efficiency: I make trash; it gets hauled away.

Likewise, I love clearing my search history. This is probably a lot less efficient that the weekly garbage pick up, but after I explore the internet down myriad rabbit holes, I can wipe away the history with a click. But of course, it isn’t really wiped away, and I will be bombarded by the facedbook bots (see how I did a typo there, as if I could outwit the team?) with ads for hair-growth oil, etc. I leave a trail of scattered stars in my virtual footpath.

Meanwhile, death rates from covid climb in India. Here is Arundhati Roy’s heartbreaking take of the situation.

Of the two mourning doves born in the first batch this spring on my balcony, only one survived. It flew away right on schedule, though still clothed in baby feathers.

It takes seven years for a trillium seed to germinate, create a tuber, and sprout. The one I planted years ago has been flowering for the past two years. It might take another seven years for a companion to grow alongside.

Today, as fog misted over the trees breaking into bloom, I drank my morning coffee, listening to birdsong; yet another small wonder in this time of covid.