Thoughts on Literature, Food, Faith and the Subversive Power of Living Small

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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel
In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
Fools Crow by James Welch
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

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"You mean in America they eat dead fish?"

This question was posed to my friend Wendy when she was in China adopting the darling Scott. Wendy had been describing something to one of her Chinese hosts about eating in America, and this woman just couldn't believe that we bought fish dead in the grocery store. Who knows what you're getting if you can't see the whole fish -- how can you tell how fresh it is if you can't see the eyes or the gills? Better to buy your fish live, out of a tank, like sensible people, no?

I got thinking of this because my garden is ruining me for regular vegetables from the grocery store. How long has that zucchini been dead? What's with that lettuce -- it came all the way from Mexico and now I'm supposed to eat it? What am I going to do all winter (I sense experiments with cold frames ahead)? I know, again with the Swiss Chard, but it's up and ready to go and having never really been a fan of Swiss Chard before, it's a revelation. Cut it, carry inside, rinse in cold water, cut up and sautee with a little garlic until it wilts, add some chicken broth and a little wine and let simmer while the chicken cooks on the barbecue. Yum. Fresh greens from my very own backyard. And if you grow it yourself, you can eat it young, when it's a little more tender than those enormous leaves you see in the store.

Speaking of greens, I went back to Seeds From Italy and ordered some more greens -- some lettuces, a radicchio/chicory mix, and nice Bill McKay who runs the site sent along a packet of an escarole-like lettuce. I can't say enough about these seeds -- the arugula was fabulous, the basil is coming up really well (and I've had bad luck with basil in the past -- which is odd as it's supposed to be so easy), and I'm looking forward to more authentic Italian greens. Plus, he sends along some good cooking tips as well. Great site, great product, nice guy. Go check it out.

posted by Charlotte at 6/18/2003 10:14:00 AM


Requiem for a Bear: R.I.P. Number 264

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about watching our friend Bill Campbell's documentary Season of the Grizzly on Animal Planet (I'd give a link to the blog entry, but Blogger seems to have decided this morning that all of my archives are unavailable. I'll have to work on that.)

Bill followed bear Number 264 for almost a year and got amazing footage of her and her cubs (although, according to Shannon, the Yellowstone bear biologist who lives two doors down from Bill and Maryanne, Number 264 wasn't a very good mommy, she kept losing cubs to male bears and accidents). Apparently, Saturday night someone hit Number 264 with a car -- she darted into the road, which she was wont to do, and someone hit her. (This alone seems like a good enough reason to me to get rid of all the damn cars in Yellowstone -- put people on trams. Also in Yosemite.) Now, I can't imagine what goes through your head as a driver when you realize you just hit a grizzly bear. It's not a deer. You can't get out of the car and go peer into the ditch to see if it's alive. I mean, you wouldn't want to be anywhere near a wounded grizzly bear. So then what? I imagine the mad scramble in the car through all that literature they give you when you enter the park -- the map, the newspaper-like thing that tells about events and recycling -- where's the damn number for calling someone about a wounded grizzly bear? And why can't I get any cellphone coverage?

At any rate, the authorities did come, and hit her with the tranqilizer gun and took her to Bozeman where xrays showed she'd broken her back. They euthanized her early Sunday morning.

It just sucks on so many levels. The fact that we've got cars in the middle of their habitat, and idiot people like the one mentioned in this article who think these aren't wild animals so it's okay to go up and touch their cubs, the fact that we've so reduced our actual wilderness that we've got grizzlies being run over by cars ... it's ridiculous.

So, in memory of Number 264 -- go check out Doug Peacock's
Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
, or Scott McMillion's
Mark of the Grizzly : True Stories of Recent Bear Attacks and the Hard Lessons Learned
, or for a fascinating philosophical meditation on the meaning of wilderness itself, there's Jack Turner's wonderful book, The Abstract Wild (a book I can't say enough good things about, a book that rewards re-reading).

posted by Charlotte at 6/16/2003 08:10:00 AM


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