Tuesday, September 30, 2008

North pole, Korean herbs and China.

It was day light on the north pole.

I had been sleeping but Wenonah woke me. “Look at that,” she said, pointing at something out the window.

I leaned over her seat and looked down below.

Except for a bank of clouds off on the horizon, the sky was clear, so I could easily see the ocean 38,000 feet below. Large circles of snow covered ice broken by bands of blue water.

But that was not what Wenonah wanted me to see. Instead, she was pointing to that bank of clouds almost directly above where I reckoned the North Pole to be.

It was a layer very similar to the ones I often see during the summer while driving home from delivering vegetables.

A thick layer of oily looking clouds.

A band of clouds looking more like concentrated smoke out of a coal fired power plant than anything else.

Pollution.

Around here I assume such things are caused by all the cars sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic along I-66, I-95 and the beltway.

But greasy looking clouds all the way up on the north pole?

“Do you see that?” Wenonah asked. “What’s it doing up this far north? There aren't any automobiles or power plants anywhere close.”

I stared at it, at that unbelievable sight, as the plane approached and then passed the north pole.

As we passed the bank of greasy looking clouds down below the snow covered ice gave way to more stretches of clear ocean then again, more ice. This time broad stretches that, instead of being snow white, had a unmistakable blue tinge to it. As though it was ice without snow.

Clear ice covering blue ocean.

Anyway, I’m back after a week in Asia. I mostly spent my time visiting my brother and his family in Korea but I did spend a couple days being a tourist in Beijing.

In Beijing we walked half a dozen miles along a less touristed part of the Great Wall. Then back to town and through the Forbidden City, across Tiananmen Square.

Rambling through the narrow streets of the Hutong neighborhoods. Walking miles through the Temple of Heaven park and then around the lake at Beihai Park where we rested at a kiosk and listened to a group singing and playing folk instruments.

Several of the woman from the group came over and sat by us and started practicing their English. They said they were a group celebrating their 40th reunion and the songs they were singing were from the 60’s and 70’s . One woman had lived and worked in Crystal City a few years back.

After a while we said our good by's and went on. It was a little while after that when my pedometer died at 25 miles for the day.

I didn’t get to see much in the way of vegetables in Beijing but the air was amazingly clear and pollution free the first day. In fact cleaner than most day’s here in DC. (it had rained the day before). Unfortunately, each day after the rain the air got progressively dirtier.

In Korea, where I spent most of my time, my brother and I ate a lot of Korean food. and I saw how important shiso (that herb we had in our shares a few weeks back) is in the Korean diet.

Instead of being a herb that the Koreans cook, the leaves are used to eat with. Whether its raw fish, grilled pork or beef a plate of shiso leaves are on the table.

You take one of the leaves and place your grilled beef (or pork or fish) on the leaf along with vegetables and hot peppers (Koreans eat a lot of hot peppers) and sauce and Kim-chi and then you fold up the leaf and put it in your mouth and eat.

The gardens and vegetable plots all have shiso growing. (Over on my blog there’s a description of the Korean vegetables I saw).

Besides the shiso, the Korean vegetable farms and gardens all have just about the same vegetables. Asian eggplant, Chinese cabbage (for Kim-chi?), hot peppers, sweet potatoes, and a type of winter squash.

Korean gardens were all immaculate. Hardly a weed to be seen. It made me envious as well as tired thinking of all the weeding that’s being done.

In China, the gardens were not as homogeneous and they weren’t near as well taken care of. I was surprised.

And now on to farm news.

Right now we are having early sign up for 2009 for those who are shareholders in 2008. It is open for only a couple weeks.

Our normal sign up period starts in February. 2009. Right now I don’t know what the 2009 shares will cost and probably won't until February.

Waiting list for 2009 season. Beginning October 1 we will start the waiting list for 2009 shares. To get on this list you simple need to send me your name, e-mail address, size of share you think you will sign up for and which pick up spot. This holds you to no responsibility. To be on the waiting list simply means that you are interested and when the shares open I will send you an e-mail announcing the fact.

Two weeks of vegetable deliveries left. The growing season is rapidly ending.

Temperatures are supposed to drop into the 40’s at night later on this week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see nights drop into the mid or low 30’s by the end of the season. When we first started our CSA over a decade ago we usually had an October frost that would kill our more tender vegetables (peppers and basil only have to think 32 degrees and they die). One year I recall we had a hard frost killing most of our vegetables in the first half of October.

Other farm news--

Last Friday 175 day old chicks arrived in the mail. These chicks will be laying eggs by spring.

Garlic. We’ll be planting next year’s garlic next week. Planting 400 pounds of garlic if all goes well, turns in to about 2000 pounds of garlic next June.

Breaking news. A neighbor just contacted me. Last night a bear broke into several of our out laying apiaries knocking over two hives. More on that later.

Leigh

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