From the time I was big enough to walk safely behind a push mower, I would spend a portion of every Saturday mowing my great grandmother’s yard. It was a large and hilly, and there were many obstacles. My great grandmother, a child of the West Virginia coal mines and a young mother of the Great Depression, was always very resourceful, and if anyone within a 10 mile radius was dividing, thinning, or (gasp) throwing away a plant, she was there to take it off of their hands. She had perhaps the most random flower beds of any I have seen since. Her prized possession was a bed of irises in the front yard, and as I was mowing the yard, she would sit in the living room window– to keep an eye on me– but would easily become hypnotized by the tall, bearded irises swaying in the summer breeze. Culled from homes all over (and from a few bulb catalogs), she used to say that there were more colors in that bed than in the rainbow.
No matter how heinous or tumultuous the week before had been (and many weeks are like this during the teenage years), I could always count on the humble consistency of the Saturday visit with my Grand-Nan.
This past week had certainly not been the best of my life, so how mythical it was that upon arriving at the farm on Friday afternoon, I was greeted by this sight:
Soon, a double rainbow appeared:
The outer rainbow of a double rainbow is the mirror image of the one below it.
Two more rainbows made appearances on this blowy, showery Friday night. As the sun set, they grew even more spectacular. And when you are fortunate enough to have rainbows posing for you, you are obligated to take as many photos as possible. Here are some more:
Now all that was left to do was search for the pot of gold.
THE TRAIN REPORT (each week I’ll also give you a glimpse on what our train ride was like):
Twenty minutes late.
The conductor liked to hear himself talk over the PA system.
We were joined this weekend by our friend, Jane Newman. Though she has a farm in another part of New York state, she has lived and devoted much of the last decade to a project she started in Kenya.You can hear me talking about the project with Martha and former President Bill Clinton here, and learn more at: www.thorntreeproject.org. Coming all the way from Kenya, Jane is the person who has traveled the furthest to visit us at the Beekman—so far.
Jane arrived with a wonderful gift—a true pot of gold! This huge bowl was made from an ancient maple tree that fell over on her own farm. It was hand-turned by an old Polish farmer who lives nearby.
To celebrate Jane’s arrival, we created an entire meal from the farm:
A salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, radish pods, green pepper, nasturtiums, scallions, dill and parsley. The salad was dressed with apple cider vinegar that we made from last autumn’s apples.
In case you were wondering what in the world a radish pod was, here they are:
We recently read that when radishes were first cultivated, the roots (which is what is commonly eaten today) were never used. They were grown for the milder, earthy taste of their seed pods. If you plant radishes next spring, leave a few unpulled. They will eventually flower and then seed and you can be creative with your own salads. Next year we may try pickling them like capers.
Roast with parsnips, potatoes, and carrots. The roast was seasoned with rosemary and thyme. To see the different varieties of potatoes in the garden, take the BEEKMAN 1802 Heirloom Garden tour.
Jane likes “extreme gardening”, so we put her to the test. We planted 500 iris bulbs in a new bed we created down near the pond. While some of the bulbs were the result of a birthday gift—a gift certificate to the fabulous Schreiner’s Iris Garden —over 300 of them came from a neighbor who was dividing her irises.
I think Grand-nan would be proud.
To learn more about dividing and planting irises and to discover how rainbows and irises are related click over to our Learn blog.
THE TRAIN REPORT
Fifteen minutes late.
The train smelled nothing like irises.