09 August 2007

Pansies au gratin?

I hope it rains today.

We need rain. My flowers are dead, my bushes are dying. MJ did some gardening last night just to help them over the hump of this heat wave. And you know, it's a little bit hazy so the heat doesn't really catch up with you until it's too late to realize that the heat index is 105 degrees. Maybe that's not so hot for some of you out there. Good for you. Maybe you'd like to come over here, take care of three kids, clean a 50 gallon turtle tank, and keep everyone fed and happy in an old house without air conditioning in temperatures where it's hot enough to fry an egg on the street. Hell, and I'm lucky... this is only a passing heat wave. I can't imagine what hell it must be like in Baghdad where it's twenty degrees hotter than this and you have the occasional city block blown up. But I digress.

What I really wanted to talk about was flowers.

My flowers may be long dead, but that doesn't erase them from my mind. Daisies, Black-eyed Susans, Poppies, and Sunflowers... these are the petal-bearers of my domain. I'm also a big fan of the pansy. The pansy is a damn sturdy flower. Never understood why its name got co-opted to mean the precise opposite. Go figure.

I recall the first time I ever visited Chapel Hill, NC. This was around 1993 when bands like Archers of Loaf and Superchunk were making the hometown of the University of North Carolina an indie-rock Mecca of sorts. I was there in a van on tour with the guys only to find out our show that night had been cancelled. After a nap in the parking lot of a donut shop, we decided to spend the days seeing what Chapel Hill had to offer and trying to find a bill that we could hop on for the night.

By three in the afternoon, things were looking down. We didn't have enough gas money to get to our next gig in Atlanta, and nothing had come together in terms of setting up an ad hoc set anywhere in town. Chapel Hill's main drag only being a few blocks long at the time, it soon became clear to us that walking up and down the half-mile stretch looking for opportunity would only suffer us the fates of the law of diminishing returns.

I sat along a curb by myself, dejected.

Along came a vagrant of the nicest sort. Sitting down next to me, the vagrant picked a flower and promptly ate it. We stared at one another. "So long as you have flowers, you will never go hungry," the vagrant spoke and then vanished.

The guys found me sitting on the curb. They had good news. We'd been picked up on a bill for that evening and were promised gas money to Georgia.


Now, truth be told, my little garden in Elkridge is a mess. I do get a lot of flowers, though it tends to look more like foliage mandated by the Ladybird Johnson act than by anything worthy of the Victory Garden. MJ swears half my 'flowers' are really blooming weeds.

No matter. MJ plants really nice flowers along with tomatoes and herbs. My favorites are her pansies.

I wonder what they taste like.


MJ said...

If they weren't all dead now I'd put some in a sandwich for you. Delicate leaves. Not much flavor.

Jennifer said...

I knew they're considered edible, but was never sure what they tasted like.

When MJ and I were kids, I remember seeing a recipe for candied violets--lovely image, never tried making 'em. Now that's old-fashioned!

Savvy said...

i've eaten a pansy blossom or two in my time.. kind of tangy, works better as a garnish. it's worth the guests' reaction when you serve a salad with pansies.