A handful of mint
pressed into the honey jar,
not a bee in sight.
It was dainty how he picked a single leaf from his plate, between thumb and forefinger. Held it out the way people do when they're far from home. "What is this?" he asked.
"Arugula," he repeated as if explaining something to himself. He looked at it from all sides. "Do they do something to it?"
"It's local," his sister answered. "Fresh."
He studied it again but this time more intently. I started studying it too, wanting it to be special.
Then he put the leaf in his mouth shaking his head.
"It's good," he finished and reached with his fork for more.
Maybe it's because it's late that I cried watching the trailer for Edible City. Or maybe it's because Van Jones is part of the trailer and he always makes me cry with great hope.
Maybe it's because I don't live on a farm or have a back yard for the garden of my dreams. Or maybe it was the kids in the community gardens with sunflower smiles, the dirt on everyone's hands, the purple blossom of an artichoke flower shot sharp against the blurred background of the freeway.
I don't know. But it was wonderful.
I started saving plastic in the top drawer of a file cabinet at work then carried it home in my purse. The cute guy brought his home in a brown paper bag he propped against the kitchen wall. The smaller pieces were tossed in a plastic bowl on top of the salad plates. Isn't this how everyone saves their plastic?
I responded to Beth's, @ Fake Plastic Fish, call for Show Us Your Plastic challenge. She's been saving and photographing her plastic for a couple of years. The cute guy and I did it for a week.
Having it all in the same place was a good reality check. I honestly didn't think we used this much and there are a few pieces that didn't make it into the picture. On the other hand, this is a fraction of the plastic we used two years ago when I was still shopping at the grocery store or even a few months ago when the final switch from plastic produce bags happened.
The big pieces of plastic were packaging for boat gear. Sailing is actually synonymous with plastic. In fact the plastic industry probably invented sailing so it would have a market for its plastic. That is after they invented processed, fast and prepared foods because they're the foundation of a thriving plastic industry.
The cute guy and I each ended up with plastic lids from speedy baristas that installed them before we could decline. They're displayed in the plastic cookie tray he bought and then emptied during his first single handed sailing race to the Farallons. (Ninth place!)
He was then assaulted with a straw. "Don't ask," he said. I didn't but we did discuss a regular set of utensils he could carry in the truck for those emergency burritos on sailing nights.
One of my biggest surprises was a baggie of almonds from the farmer's market. I honestly didn't notice they were in plastic. All I saw were Almonds. And I wanted them. In fact I specifically didn't buy raisins and dates because they were sold in plastic.
The other surprise was all the mail with those harmless little plastic windows. They actually breed in my mailbox. I stopped the catalogs and free mailers some time ago but there's more that can be done. I'll be requesting estatements from banks and utilities.
There are some things however that I do not want to give up. Andante cheese which is wrapped in a thin film of plastic, Rancho Gordo beans that come in cellophane bags and St. Benoit yogurt sold in returnable glass jars but with a rind of plastic around the lid. They are staples I rely on.
The cute guy is not giving up sailing.
Until I find something comparable I'm also not giving up yellow sponges with the green scrubby sides that come individually wrapped. I'd happily buy a three or a six pack if I could find them though.
I may be able to save my organic dirt bags and refill them at the local hardware/nursery store. It will be worth checking in to.
The delivery of the Sunday NY Times in it's signature blue plastic bag is on the hit list. At least for the summer. I can buy a copy at the corner store. I'll also try to be aware of almonds but they control my mind. I make no promises.
I don't believe we will ever be plastic free but the least we can do is minimize our consumption of single use plastic when it's not necessary so when it is necessary, or there isn't an apparent alternative, say for sailing or medical, healthy like things, our over all consumption won't be great. We'll save our plastic chips for when we really need them. That's my motivation anyway.
I love it when I'm wrong. Not really, but this case was an exception.
I don't buy the first of the season. Somewhere I planted in my head, fabricated rather than from a reliable source I'm sure, that the first picked fruits and vegetables of the season are forced; brought to the table too soon. There was an imagined immaturity, a lack of taste, of refinement. Too early meant too much pushing and pulling. Ha.
Last week I bought the first peaches on the market; Early Treats. They're way to early, I told myself. I put three, the size of golf balls, in my purse. Half an hour later at the office the peaches were ripe. Mistakenly I took a bite at my desk. Juice flew while I watched, motionless.
For a split second I expected to see someone flicking water from a glass over the papers in front of me. The juice was easier to explain than the flavor in my mouth though. Flowers, I thought. I'm eating flowers. Soft pink flowers.
The peach dripping in my hand and onto my blouse brought me to.
I moved away from the desk, grabbed a napkin and studied the taste. It was unmistakably peach. As real and ripe and honey laden as those in the heat of summer.
Being wrong never tasted so good.
Yeah, that was me walking up the boulevard the other night with the big red bowl. It's my favorite bowl but I never thought I'd be flaunting it on the sidewalk in rush hour traffic. I tried to act casual. Like I was walking a dog or carrying home an over sized library book. But the bowl was too heavy to carry with one hand or carry in the same position for more than a quarter of a block.
Did I say the lid kept popping off? That there was a roasted, local organic chicken inside? That it was windy, I was hungry and also carrying my purse that held an actual hard cover library book, a camera and an inordinate amount of change.
It was ridiculous and all I could do was laugh. Even more ridiculous though are the single use, heavy plastic, chicken shaped containers the roasted chickens are sold in. I wrote the store a letter six months ago requesting an alternative. They sent a nice reply. I continued to not buy roasted chickens and waited for change. Nothing happened except we didn't eat chicken.
I decided to take matters into my own hands. Be the change you want to see, as they say.
I walked in the store with my big red bowl and asked for a roasted chicken. There was initial hesitancy on every one's part. "No one's ever asked for this," the counter person said. Surely there were rules or codes being broken. I smiled, spoke calmly. He looked like he was going to call for help but we talked it through. He put a plastic free chicken in the bowl and I made it through the check out line without being stopped.
Now even the people in line think it's a good idea. "I bring my cloth bags," a woman told me last week, "but this is taking it to a new level."
Which is what I need to remember next time - my cloth bag. The big one. It would make it a lot easier to carry the red bowl home in.