Friday, April 16, 2010

Dragon Tail Soup

Birdland is quiet this evening. Ursula is on an overnight stay at the hospital for a little procedure. I got a call this afternoon reporting that my puppy is just fine, if a little groggy, and she had a pedicure while she was napping. We went to town early this morning and had a nice walk while waiting for the vet to open up shop. Most of our walks are in the country, so whenever we hike in town I like to look around and think about an alternate lifestyle where I might wave to my neighbors as I walk downtown for a cup of coffee or a bank errand. I shamelessly peer into yards for landscaping ideas, and gaze into gardens for color combinations. I saw a rounded dogwood tree bursting with crisp, pink petals. An elderly couple nodded to me as they shared a brisk morning walk. A man practiced his golf swing at the head of his driveway. Recycling buckets lined the curb awaiting pickup. The lawns were fresh and trim and green. Ursa needed an empty stomach for her surgery and hadn’t eaten since the night before. She was snapping at the grass and trying to root in the soil. When our walk ended at the vet’s office, I told them we had an emergency; Ursa was surely going to die if she didn’t get her breakfast soon. She trotted naively to her fate, and I went on with my day.

It was a lovely town walk, but when I got home I wondered at my envy. The warm weather is coaxing the blossoms out of their jackets and new colors emerge from the calyx to decorate Birdland. The gentle pink of Redbud harmonizes with the purples of Violets and Ground Ivy. The Lilac bushes, white and lavender, add their soft scent to the breeze. Weigela scatters flashy magenta petals in the grass to set off the Violets. I spent the day trying to work at my desk, but accomplished little, because I kept finding myself outside. “I’d better check on those chicks,” I’d think, and leave my typing mid-sentence. Half an hour later I’d come to, and find myself examining the bluebells I’d transplanted in the little spinney of woods several years ago. They are just beginning to bloom, and spreading nicely.

I don’t know how the day disappeared, but suddenly it was dusk, and I went out to check the chickens and close up the coop. I passed the asparagus patch on the way to the aviary, and though I’m sure I saw no hint of shoots yesterday, now they were two feet tall, and more. A handful was too far gone—already branching out and turning woody. Darkness was falling fast, and a moon hung in the Western sky like the tiniest sliver of cantaloupe. I went in and grabbed a flashlight and a sharp knife, then called for Ellis, since I could not juggle both with the asparagus. My youngest came along, grumbling only a little. He held the light for me while I cut them close to the ground, like Nora suggested last spring. We also checked the rogue patch by the bonfire pit, but those had not yet surfaced. I carried my green bouquet to the kitchen. If you bend the stalk it will snap at the perfect point to separate the tender part of the shoot from the tough base. Too bad we’d already eaten. I put the shoots in a vase of water, mixing the feathery, overgrown stalks with those still scaled on the tip like the tail of a lizard. Tomorrow we’ll have dragon tail soup.

I’ll pick up Ursula tomorrow. I miss her, but I appreciate the tranquil house tonight. Kali, the ghost kitten calls from the basement. I set her dishes of food and water in the kitchen and urge her to come up for her supper. Emboldened by the absence of canine (Isis is asleep in the living room), she stays a little longer, tolerating, for a while, my mindless soliloquy.

Walk in Beauty; Eat in Peace; Blessed Be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. Birdland now has a fan page on facebook.

Dragon Tail Soup

Snap fresh asparagus into 2 inch lengths, reserving the tips. Steam the stem ends gently, just until they are the color of spring grass. Now steam the tails (I mean, tips) while you puree the stems with a little water, stock, cream, milk, or yogurt. Pour in bowls and drop in tails. Garnish with yogurt, sour cream, and fresh herbs of your choice. Enjoy!

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