Sunday, November 27, 2011

I tried rutabagas.

The secret is that Garrison Keillor made me do it.

I have a love-hate relationship with the Writer's Almanac. I find the information fascinating and I love to read the poems again afterward, but I am not the president of the Garrison Keillor fan club. I just disagree with his way of reading most of the time. Too slow. Too many pauses for breath. Tone of befuddlement, especially in situations where befuddlement doesn't work. And yet, I have to listen. I like most of the stories, and the poetry! It's all about the poetry. And yet... there is this one other issue. Of course, a few years ago I wrote a poem about it:


Why I really regret having picked up the habit of listening to Writer's Almanac every morning

When, standing in the bookstore aisle, I open up somewhere in the middle of a new book of poetry to peruse and test its waters;
When, settling in with a new collection, repetition and flow wash over me (O that this poet's words were mine!);
When, pencil in hand, I dot the final line of my own feeble attempts, scanning back over my own lines with some satisfaction;

Elation! Joy! Soaring! But too soon,

that crazy Writer's Almanac theme music
(zippy from the end of the show, not slow and plodding from the introduction)
rips through my mind announcing
the end of the poem.
Garrison has finished his reading for the day.
Time to put the poem down. I am off to
Be well, I set my hands to
Do good work, and I try to figure out with whom I would like to
Keep in touch.

Oh, wait. I had more poetry to live.
Lost, I search vainly to figure out where I was.


So last Tuesday, Garrison read a poem about rutabagas. And I was so taken in by the description of them as having a
"...dug-up texture,
the hint of dirt
that couldn't be baked away,"
that I went out that afternoon and bought two rutabagas.

When I started peeling them, I was shocked at the thick layer of paraffin coating them. I cut them into large cubes and roasted them with cubed pork loin and with other vegetables: sweet potatoes, baby red potatoes, carrots, garlic, and mushrooms.

The rutabagas were a delight. They tasted just like the poem said they would. Point Keillor.

Here is a song from a Christmas album I downloaded this afternoon. I may post more from it while the holiday season is on. I liked the Christmas albums so much I went back and downloaded everything Amazon had by them. I think this is a band I will enjoy getting to know better. Anyway. Enjoy the surprise halfway through this one.

Future of Forestry - Joy To The World

Friday, November 25, 2011


So it's fall and the trees have been very busy dumping their leaves. Thanksgiving is always a reference point for me. It seems like my first few years living here, there were still lots of leaves left on the trees as we rolled into the last part of November. This year, definitely not. We have had some early cold, and most of the leaves are down.

I write about this because my new classroom has me parking on the back lot of the school now rather than the front, and in the back lot, there is a tree with different leaves. In the front it's all maple and other super-broad-leaved trees; in the back there is a tree with smaller, skinnier leaves. (Sorry, I do not know which trees are which, so you'll have to believe this rudimentary description.) They are rounded at the base, about three inches long and 1/2 inch across, and they form a slight point at the end. Go figure. Anyway, this tree must have dropped millions and millions of these little leaves. They are all over the back of the lot, and when it rains, they coat your car like fur.

But what struck me was walking out to my car in the rain the other day - the sound of the rain drops hitting the leaves was so staccato, like a million rattlesnakes rattling, just beautiful - and so different from the normal sounds of rain hitting pavement or (more silently) grass. It reminded me of rain in the forest - it reminded me of the green expanse beyond the city that houses most of my life. I felt wonderful and alive.

The next day when I got in my car after school, more leaf madness. As I drove along the street, one of these leaves flew up from the vent area below the the windshield wipers and behind the hood, and started to dance across my windshield. Because it was damp, the ends stuck to the glass, but the middle rippled and waved and forced slow movement upward toward the top of the car. When I came to a stop, it fell, and it blew away.

Hooray for leaves. I will be glad in the spring when they come back again. I'll have to take a closer look at that tree so I can figure out what kind it is.

Bing Crosby - Autumn Leaves