Some people dumpster dive; I pick stuff off trees. You see, in my mind I live in a sprawling old farmhouse, with fieldstone fireplaces, a huge scrubbed pine table and deep stone sink in the kitchen, and a porch wide enough for a wobbly 5-year-old to ride a tricycle around. In reality (sigh) I've lived in apartments since I was twenty, usually with barely enough room for a toaster, much less a tricycle. Still, I believe in living the farmhouse lifestyle, even four flights up. So there's basil growing on the fire escape, cuttings of thyme and mint trying to take root on my windowsill, and homemade jam in the closet (along with a cardboard box labelled "jam supplies", which really weirds the urban types out, even though it's just a place to stash my extra Ball jars and wide-mouth funnel. OK, and jar-lifting tongs, two sizes of extra lids, and a muslin jelly bag. But really...). As you might guess, along with this happy delusion goes an abiding fondness for urban foraging.
In California, I would stroll down to China Beach (within spitting distance from the cliffside mansions of Robin Williams et al) and rummage in the dense clusters of blackberry vines, the winey purple-black berries dropping into my cupped fingers as sun sparkled off the Pacific below me. Yesterday, I found myself browsing through the Sunday papers in front of a big mulberry tree at Empire Fulton State Park as the trains thundered overhead across the Manhattan Bridge. The ripe berries were there for the taking, and luckily I had an empty plastic container in my bag. After I crammed all the berries I could fit into my little deli tub, ripe berries suddenly started to spatter onto my shoulders, just like that scene in The Wizard of Oz when the angry apple trees start hurling their apples at Dorothy and the Scarecrow. But no--it was just a family shaking the berries down en masse into a picnic blanket held taut under the branches.
The rest of the day-- a peach ice cream cone at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, down next to the river, wandering back through the shady streets of Brooklyn Heights to see "My Summer of Love" at the Cobble Hill Cinema and then a glass of rose and a tomato-and-apricot salad at the bar at Blue Star. The last three days have been almost entirely solitary--everyone's out of town.
Tonight--a bbq with J. & M., to which I'll be toting a warm red-white-and-blue pie--blueberries, raspberries, and wild mulberries. Happy Independence Day!
Songs for Patriotic Pie Making
1. Lightening Seeds, "Pure"
2. Elvis Presley, "A Little Less Conversation"
3. Spoon, "Something to Look Forward To"
4. Magnetic Fields, "Tar Heel Boy"
5. Johnny Cash, "Train of Love"