Yesterday's weather was stunning. Low humidity, a cloudless blue sky and the temperature was a cool 80 degrees. So I took myself to the arboretum and drove right into the side service gate. After I parked and walked up to my favourite picnic spot, it occurred to me that the park was unpeopled, empty for such a lovely day. Then I remembered that the grounds are closed Mondays. Not wanting to get locked behind a chained gate as the hour was approaching 5, I found a gent on a lawn tractor who assured me I had time to drive out. I'm going back today, I hope.
They bring tiny sparkling shopping bags, with fancy teas and chocolates. Sometimes a piece of jewelry is tucked in tissue, or a candle with a unique and exotic aroma. Almost always, though, there are soaps. These are fabulously expensive, perfumed cakes that you'd never buy unless you are filling up a bag for the lady with whom you are lunching.
People have been putting their dog walking bags into my city issued waste can and the trash men only pull big bags out of the cans so the shit's been collecting at the bottom. In the heat. I gagged violently but the odor would only worsen, so I was elected to remedy this situation by attrition. We were out of baking soda, so I grabbed the can of air freshener from the bathroom and sprayed the mess good before I tipped the can and consolidated the smaller bags into a larger, heavier bag. From here the day can only improve.
It is satisfying to ink, not pencil, appointments and deadlines on the free Department of Public Works calendar hanging on our pantry door. Ironically, this month's theme is reservoirs and the watershed. I think I'll go visit Stoney Run. Maybe I will hear cathedral bells and bullfrogs.
On the way out of the fancy grocer's, one of the handles on my paper shopping bag snapped off. It sent tubs of yogurt spinning on the sidewalk. As I bent over to collect them, a man helped me fill up my bag and rolled the top of it into a handle. He accompanied me to my car and when I unlocked it with the remote he remarked "Oh that tiny Fiat! Maybe someday it will grow up and become a real car!". I said "Yes, I love it! It has the turning radius of a tricycle for making U turns in the middle of Charles Street!" He had nothing further to say.
It's too hot to cook. The heat is so oppressive, it's hard to think strait. So, if you can lift your enervated hands to open a few cans, here is a very tasty recipe adapted from a bomb shelter survival guide;
1 can chick peas
1 can quartered artichokes
1 small can sliced black olives
1or 2 spring onions
Some olive oil
About two tablespoons green za'atar
Green and red za'atar are Middle Eastern spice blends that can be found at Hilal grocers or on the internet. Many spice brands have Mediterranean blends if you can't get green za'atar. That said, open the cans and drain them. I like to rinse off the chick peas. Dump them in a salad bowl and add the thinly sliced spring onions, squeeze the lemon over it, add the olive oil (to taste) and mix. Now add the green za'atar. I like mine to look properly peppered with it, but again, it's a matter of individual taste. My bag of green za'atar has these ingredients;
Roasted wheat, roasted thyme, ground sumac, sesame seeds and salt. It's not spicy hot.
After it's all mixed, stick it in the fridge for a few hours to marinate. It's great for picnics, it's vegan and has lots of protein, vitamins, calcium and fiber. A fancy glass bowl will make it stunning and unique at a summer potluck. Go ahead and try it, you'll like it.