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Thursday, November 24, 2011


Heading west

As I went through the house one more time, seeking out forgotten items in upstairs closets, I placed them in one of three carefully categorized piles: Pack for storage, give it to family and friends or donate to charity.

The potted ficus tree I nurtured for some 15 years, growing from a literal twig to a tree standing 9 feet tall, gone to the local Arboretum; a box of liqueurs went to Amy, who will use them in colorful concoctions of jam and fruit sauce; the under-counter wine refrigerator off to Chris as a reminder of great conversations over a glass of some newfound spectacular juice. Room after room, pieces of a lifetime, carefully wrapped and stored for the future. As my hands turned black from ink on newsprint while wrapping empty canning jars, I couldn't help thinking that any other year on a colorful, crisp day in October, my hands would be black from digging potatoes. One of the last acts in the garden is one of my favorite chores. Savoring the the rich, musky scent of charcoal-colored Midwestern soil just before the ground freezes; I look forward to my next experience with it, now months away.

My life has changed.

Mount McKinley, Alaska

My husband, now working year round in the oilfields of northern Alaska and returning to Minnesota about every other month, understandably wanted to change his winter home to something that looks less like, well, winter. 

We scouted the region and on a recent trip to Washington State found our new home as we traveled through Missoula, Montana. It is a 31' RV. Summers at the lake, winters in the desert and gardens in pots, at least for now. 

At the Alamo

At Bandelier National Monument, NM

Pointing us west in Arizona
After traveling through Texas Hill County for a wonderful visit with family and spending a few days hiking near Santa Fe, we meandered to Palm Springs, California. An oasis in the desert. 

Becker Winery near Fredericksburg, Texas. Outstanding.

To my Midwestern small town sensibilities, Palm Springs seems at first too fast, too full of great masses of people moving constantly. But there is one remarkable advantage here. This is California. Swimmin' pools, movie stars and ridiculously fabulous Farmer's Markets. We're talking OMG. 

Hiking in Indian Canyons, Palm Springs

At the market in Palm Desert yesterday I bought lush local greens, freshly baked brioche, local goats milk Feta, local almonds and olive oil and four perfect, tiny organic pears for salads. I love connecting to a place, a tradition, a people through the food they produce. While my 'Northern Kitchen' has moved south for a few months, my Midwestern heart has not. I hope you will enjoy traveling with me this winter as I discover 'local' in a new locale and bring you a Northern perspective on this great, decadent garden called California.

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