Summer is traditionally the time of year when my friends come to call – the garden is in bloom, streams are running, butterflies and hummingbirds fill the air, we can sit outside and drink hibiscus lemonade and I am not in such a bad mood. Nobody in their right mind would visit me in January, when I amuse myself by sharpening my axe. July is a Much Better Time.
Awhile back my darling friend Francine and I dubbed our Saturday visits “Saturdays Francine’ – usually they’re in Chicago, shopping and eating bao and yakkin’ it up. This time Francine came to spend the weekend in Hooterville with me. Elegant, witty, urbane, loving the idea of homesteading because Martha and P.Allen and everybody else with a coffeetable book and tv show makes it look so lovely (yes, I. AM JEALOUS. There. I said it) And something tells me Miss Martha hasn’t ever really cleaned a coop. Or pulled ick out of a chicken butt. Or fought varro mites in her beehives. Just sayin’)
Anyway, Francine’s visited before, but never in the midst of growing season. It’s a whole lotta work during Summer – granted, it’s way prettier than in the early Spring, when I’m setting out seedlings in a chilly rain or during Autumn clearing, in a chilly rain…but cleaning the coop in 90F…ugh. Moving trays of seedlings into the deep shade to escape the extreme heat – at 7am. Harvesting turnip greens is itchy work. Dusting with diatomaceous earth (achooo!) Picking cutworms off the broccoli leaves. The first cherry tomato is charming. The 4oth? Not so much. By 9a the sun is an Angry Ball of Ow. City Francine, in love with the chickens. Until she got pecked. It’s cute as heck when they are 2 weeks old. When they are 4 months old? It hurts. One minute you’re hanging sheets out to dry and the next you’re untangling your hair from the clothesline you just leapt into. I’m not sure if it’s the pain or the sudden shock of getting pecked – either way, it’s no fun atall. That may be why smart folks wear jeans instead of little sundresses. Huh. Must look into that.
It was fun, though – her enthusiasm rekindled mine, which is diluted by 5am get-ups and the hot-ass sun. Her gift to me was to remind me that this is a gift. I have a choice to garden/farm; sometimes I get so crazed and caught up in the ‘work’ that…you know what? I forget: as with perfume reviewing, it’s actually a privilege to do this. I may not have Martha Life but …I harvest my tomatoes,potatoes and onions knowing I chose to do this because I love it! . So I need to quitmahbitchin’, pull up my big girl socks and go pull up some weeds. And I need to stop and drink a lemonade now and then and just ENJOY the garden. So thanks, Miss Francine, for reminding me!
We went around the corner to Miss Lura’s to look at her orchard and poultry yard; sitting on her back porch, drinking sweet tea and listening to Nature sounds, I was transported back to my childhood ….there’s something about this town that’s so very, very 1954. Miss Lura and her family are avid gardeners and sitting amongst her plants and flowers, watching her son tend their extensive vegetable garden, is very relaxing. They are homesteaders as well – a good 70% of what they eat, they grow themselves (though Miss Lura is steadfast in her refusal to ‘eat her pets’ – yet another reason why I won’t name our chickens; we think we might have a rooster. If so, we are having coq au vin ). I explained to Francine how Miss Lura’s property is an excellent site in which to ride out the zombie invasion – it’s a farmette compound with plenty of room for egg & meat livestock, bordered by a creek. If they have to, they can wall up the 1-acre property and fence in their portion of the creek (of course, they will have to sterilize the water as they use it but Everybody Knows That)….I was getting all Max Brooks and ….it was just about then that Francine started looking at me real funny-like. Yeah. Well, come the Zombie Apocalypse, when I’ll be all Daryl-ed UP and Governator of my Own Domain??! We’ll see who’s lookin’ funny then! Of course, I could be in NYC when it happens..if so….well..
but I digress..
Later, we relaxed under the umbrellas and drank sangria…and just about the time she was getting back into the Trug Fantasy, I took her to a Real Farm. Hartz Produce is owned and run by my friend Lorie and her son Lyn. It’s an organic truck farm, full of gorgeous hens and herbs and vegetables – but it’s about as ‘working’ as you can get – not a Martha Moment in sight. These people work their farm HARD 7 days a week, no cutesy fenced kitchen gardens or coops with weathervanes (Lorie gets a kick out of my cute little space). Francine took her first-ever ride in a Gator, stepped in mud and chicken poop, tasted some incredibly spicy oregano blossoms, right off the bush, picked chocolate basil, German thyme, varigated sage, lemon balm….I thought I was gonna need C-4 to get her out of there! But…just looking at 3 (of 20!) 100-ft rows of herbs that all desperately needed weeding…well, that takes the Trug right out of ya!
Dough. I used to love to bake and The American Baking Competition got my bakin’ juices going again (Darlene wuz ROBBED!!). Francine is an accomplished baker and yakking with Francine got me lusting to make laminated dough, which I love (and make – in No-freakin’-VEMBER). But I want to make it -right now. Blame out of whack hormones? The heat? Francine? It’s 89F in my kitchen right now (seriously) – and I’ve got a hankerin’ to make laminated dough? Puff-freakin’- PASTRY? IN JULY? Luckily, cooler heads prevailed (heh. see what I did there? ‘Cooler’ ?? Okay – I’ll stop now..heh. ‘cooler’ heh. ) – she’s got a great recipe for multgrain bread she will share with me – in Autumn, aka When Sane People Bake. It involves water you save from when you boil potatoes! I’m crazy to want to bake that bread NOW. Right? We do not have a/c so I can’t do the laminated dough but the bread….it’s nuts! It’s sooo hot… ….but with that thought comes this: it’s already 2billion degrees in here. What’s one more oven? I’m insane, right?
We did a little bit of perfume trawling – she fell in love with Strange Invisible Perfume’s Epic Gardenia – and who hasn’t? It’s glorious, without that bleu-cheese punch that puts me off so many of the gardenia scents. She’s one of those Tuvache Freaks so I sent her some vintage Tuvache Jungle Gardenia from Surrender to Chance. Flyin’ your Gardenia Freak Flag, honey! And she finally got to try my beloved Agraria Bitter Orange and fell in love – and who hasn’t? (and if you haven’t, keep it to yourself!)
We then spent quite a bit of time exploring her Number One Scent: Courreges. Like so many of us, her perfume lust was rekindled when she tried to find her old love (she got her grandmother’s bottle when she passed away); we talked about Anitra Earle – anybody remember her? She was the Perfume Detective, before Google was a gleam in Larry’s and Sergey’s eyes. Francine’s been begging me to write about Courreges since we first met – I don’t think she cares that I’m not in love with it – she’s just hoping there are other Courreges lovers out there.
And, I confess, I am not in love with it. I don’t hate it – it’s actually a very pretty scent in that definite 70s way -to me it actually smells the way Andre Courreges’s fashions looked, during the height of his career – very ‘modern’ and vaguely geometric rather than organic (that’s not a bad thing). There was a Courreges boutique in the early Water Tower Place days, all white and cubed. I had a Courreges dress, white knit with bold primary squares edged in black. Sigh. That dress, along with that dress size (4) is so very long-gone and somehow, the perfume completely passed me by.
What’s interesting about Francine’s Journey to Courreges is that……..well, it’s a bit of a mystery, Courreges is. There’s very little written about the scent! It’s only listed on Fragrantica in a thread about scents that are NOT on the database. If I didn’t have the damn bottle sitting right in front of me (Courreges Concentrated Cologne) I would think Francine’d made it up! For the rest of the perfume world, it seems Courreges began with Empriente.
Do any of you know of this particular Courreges? If so, let’s hear about it! There’s gotta be more than 4 people in the world who know this one. Right?
And if you can snip some oregano blossoms from the plant, do so. Chop it up and put it in a spicy tomato sauce or on eggs, in place of pepper. Sheer, spicy yumminess!