Is this beating rain we’ve had here every day all summer long happening in other places–or is the Albany area merely being punished for particular sins?
It’s been nice for the perennials, but really problematic for the vegetables, therefore really problematic for the gardener. I have yet to harvest a single ripe tomato. No fresh-roasted tomatoes over pasta yet. Not once. Do I sound bitter?
The tropicals in pots are also depressed. Not a single bloom yet from my huge canna. None from the calla, either, or from my Key lime tree. The fig tree has only three figs on it.
There’s been almost no swimming.
Still, there are compensations even for damp, cold, and sunless. It’s been a banner year for the wild mushrooms. My country neighbors Martha and Rick have been taking me and the kids on educational forages, and Martha, who knows everything there is to know about food, has talked me through making a very nice wild mushroom soup.
I’d do almost anything for wild mushroom soup. At age 15, for example, I was too vain to wear my eyeglasses for anything but the super-important stuff: spotting boletes from a distance.
This was during one of the spectacular summers I spent in Bavaria as a kid with my mother’s sister Rose and her family. We’d get up at 4am on cold, rainy August mornings in order to clean out the forest of the super-tasty King Boletes and what they called "Brown Caps," a bolete with a yellow underbelly that bruised blue, before any of the competition arrived–worms, snails, squirrels, farmers and their wives. The pine forest was ancient, dark, free of underbrush, too atmospheric to be believed. My Uncle Fritz, the handsomest man who ever lived plus a droll guy who always made us kids laugh, used to tease me about the mushroom spectacles. The soup Rose made was not just delicious, but profound.
This rainy year has also proved to be a great year for drenched-to-the-bone and starving five-week old kittens. My husband nearly ran one over on a heavily wooded country road on Monday morning. All bets are, she’s part of the household now. Mother Nature moves in mysterious ways and soggy gifts flung into country roads might be one of them.