Summer is slipping through my fingers like a hot, peeled, boiled egg. Dipped in oil
It happens every year. The crescendo of hand-wringing, hopeful planting days, rolling into peak farm production, setting us up for a crashing wave of countless tasks that washes us up on the shore of Overwhelmville.
There are no people in Overwhelmville. Only unfinished jobs as far as the eye can see. In fact, Overwhelmville is a flat, low-lying land; the highest elevation that of the rocky shoreline. 360 degree views of incomplete projects are visible, providing the viewer an exhaustive, but painfully accurate glimpse of what the unforeseeable future holds. A one-way tide leaves the unfortunate soul on the beach in Overwhelmville, not reversing it's flow until all boxes are ticked, all duties fulfilled.
Although always flat with infinite vistas, Overwhelmville exists in the heart of every human being, it's topography and climate fluctuating around the soul of the individual. In my Overwhelmville, the landscape is of course dead level, but choked with vegetation.
Weeds like to grow as much as desirable plants. I forget that. In fact, they are the horticultural mutts to the pure-bread, plant-to-order heirloom vegetables, herbs and perennials. A purely bred anything has weaknesses, heirloom or not, and must have nearly perfect conditions to thrive. A plant that has survived centuries of being yanked, flamed, and bombed with chemicals develops strategies. One such tactic is growing at the base of a tender, valuable herb; so close to the root of the herb that to yank the offending botanical interloper would be to risk damage to the precious, mail-order sprout. That's just one of their cunning schemes. The list is endless.
Weeds love Overwhelmville.
It's not just weeds that respond to warm, sunny summer days, and well-timed, soaking rains. Our produce jumps like world-class athletes this time of year. Working farm jobs around writing and preparing a new book for publishing, is a challenge at best. I won't even count the demands of children's schedules, livestock needs, harvest preservation, meal preparation, sleep, and social media obligations, all of which lurk around every rock in Overwhelmville.
Overwhelmville has two things going for it, however. Abundance, and blessing. Even when rumbly, bumbly rainclouds hang overhead, the sun shines at the edges. Golden light pierces the water droplets, unmasking the brilliant rainbows hidden within. A gentle zephyr blows continuously, drying the rain soon after it washes the task-filled scenery. The chirp of summer crickets breaks the silence and settles a harried heartbeat.
Crickets are speaking to me through my open windows even now, as I plan the rest of my day in Overwhelmville. This time of year, the farm rules everything. We eat in season as much as possible, and preserve the rest for winter. I freeze, can, dry, and cellar everything I can get my hands on- even some wild plants for medicinal use. (You should never use plants you aren't absolutely sure of. The results could be unfortunate) The herb field is exuberant just now, each variety of plant loudly proclaiming it's merits, and scenting the air with it's own herbaceous pungency. One such patch of greenery is cilantro, and I'm up to my eyeballs in the stuff.
I love making Mexican dishes, when using cilantro in the kitchen, but more often think Indian. Curries are fabulous in themselves, but anointed with cilantro, ascend to the divine. Today's recipe doesn't call for fresh cilantro. I copied it out of River Road Recipes III, A Healthy Collection back in the very early 90s, and is attributed to Shug Lockett (Mrs. Walker). If I'm to stick with the Rediscovered Recipe Box format, I won't adjust it. But I would encourage you to sprinkle some chopped fresh cilantro into this lovely salad, and include some wonderful homemade, or local bread. I'm sure Shug wouldn't mind.
Perhaps the takeaway message of Overwhelmville is to appreciate the moment. For someone like me, who's constantly spinning tales and living in some imaginary universe, or time, living in the moment is a powerful reminder to take what the day gives you, use it to your best ability, and write the Universe a nice Thank You note.
Yield: 4 servings
1 pound skinless chicken, cooked and cubed (2 1/4 cups)
2 cups seedless grapes or golden raisins
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts
1/4 cup low fat/low calorie mayonnaise
1/4 plain nonfat yogurt
1 teaspoon curry powder
4 tablespoons mango chutney
In a bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Chill for 2 to 3 hours, Serve on lettuce leaves with mango chutney on the side.