Sunday, June 15, 2014

Moisture

The recent tropical weather pattern of late afternoon thunderstorms and high humidities has made planning long days in the field a little tricky. Vegetation is blooming like proverbial gangbusters and the leaves on my redbud shrubs are enormous, resembling South American philodendrons ready to climb into the forest canopy. While I don't know what all of this rain is doing to the Missouri vineyard grapes, I know that strawberry season is officially over with the last strawberry harvest last week of watery, overripe, and not very flavorful berries. The peach harvest in the upper part of the Ozarks is expected to be later than normal, so if you see peach vendors from the Bootheel selling peaches in June on your rural route, snatch them up. When they're in season, I generally live on a diet of Missouri peaches, Queen Anne cherries from the Pacific Northwest, and vegetables from the yard. While we don't have the 365 day growing season like we have in New Orleans, Missouri gardeners have all the growing conditions to grow some stellar food.

I don't like the sound of words like "moist," "nourish," and "belly," all of which have come into frequent use in my news venues with the not-so-recent upswing in the locavore movement, cooking, health, etc. but there's no substitute: the moist days have allowed early summer native vegetation to bloom profusely and perfectly, just waiting for a disastrous drought, a pummeling hailstorm, or worse. Chanterelles are popping up all over dry woodlands in the Ozarks, just gorgeous mushrooms, so charming it's almost difficult to pick them (but sauteed with olive oil, Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning and red wine? Hard to beat the flavor. Especially on pizza.). High quality native ecosystems without too many deer and with a good not-too-frequent fire history should be in full bloom these days. It's always depressing to see shrubs like Ceanothus all clipped off by deer, so I go to those places without too many deer. Like my own land, I may try to find a way to put a massive fence around nice woods to keep the hooved locusts out.

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