Monday, March 23, 2009

Break + White House Garden

Grades are in, it's the first day of Spring Break, and I am sitting happily here at home petting one cat as her sister reclines on the kitchen counter in a pool of sunlight and dreams, I imagine, about the backyard she faces, which C and I call "Cat TV," since said cat never tires of staring through the backdoor panes of glass or the kitchen window onto the narrow strip of lawn and garden remains that is now mostly brown and blanketed by river magnolia leaves and the occasional errant plastic bag or potato chip package, but which often provides a staging ground for birds, cats, insects of all sorts, and, I'm told, opossum. Later this week, I'll be doing my part to return the yard and the little flower, fruit and vegetable plots bordering it to full vibrancy, as I've also dreamt of them in full bloom during this past long and relentless winter. I also hope some spring weather arrives soon, with a little warmth before the April rains begin. There is nothing, unfortunately, that I can do about that, except hope and wait.


I was glad to see that the White House decided to start a garden, as Chez Panisse owner, chef and locavore guru Alice Waters, and many others, online and off, have been urging. On Friday First Lady Michelle Obama and 26 DC fifth graders took to the allotted plots on the South Lawn with rakes and pitchforks to begin the process of transforming it into a garden that will provide fresh fruits and vegetables not only for the White House but also for Miriam's Kitchen, a facility providing meals for the homeless in DC. I imagine the First Family will be employing professional gardeners to maintain the plot, but I do hope Mrs. Obama, the president and their daughters hit the soil now and then. They feel as exhausted and yet restored as any session on the basketball court or weight machines can provide. I see from the plans below that they've wisely decided not to cultivate blackberries; I love them and highly recommend blackberry sorbet and blackberry mojitos for when the hottest days of midsummer roll on up, but as I tell everyone who's interested, unless you're willing to be vigilant, your entire plot will be a blackberry thicket if you're not careful, and not even thick gardening gloves are much of a match for the tiny switchblades the thorned versions wield to ensure their dominance over not only predators, but their worst enemies, gardeners.

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