Considering that every day since June 4th has been bananas, we did not plant a patch of greens this year. Sadie got some from a distant cousin and she decided to show me how to “Look ’em” before we cook ’em.
She dumped half the bag into the sink with some salt and we swirled them around like witches over a cauldron. Or washing clothes without a washing machine. Greens are usually a mixture of kale, mustard, turnip and collards, leaves pulled at the stem in sizes between my thumb and my hand. We rinsed each leaf and checked both sides for bugs, then put them in a big boiling pot of water (cauldron) with salt, butter, vinegar and I’m not sure what else. We made 3 batches total. The leaves wilt after being boiled, the whole thing looks like a load of spinach. All those leaves ended up filling 2 zip-lock bags, which we dated and stuck in the freezer.
Then she showed me how to look over beans, soup beans, before you cook them with a big, fat slice of fat back. Sometimes bad beans get in the bunch, or even the occasional rock. “You don’t want to crunch down on one of those,” she tells me, pouring some of the brown beans onto a plate, then pushing the good ones into the pot of water. We go on to make corn bread too, and I set the zucchini relish out that we canned earlier in the summer.
Sadie stirred bacon grease, more salt, and some vinegar into the last batch of greens, we served it up for supper with the corn bread, soup beans and creamed potatoes. It was delicious. Maybe because they were fresh out of someone else’s garden, or because it took so long to make half a plate full, but those were the best greens I’ve ever had.
While the greens were cooking, Sadie turned me loose. I changed into the usual and strode outside with a book and an apple. I caught Tug and gave him a quick brush, unlocked the tack room and found the saddle bags. We used them a lot for rides with James, filling them with snacks, drinks, even toilet paper. Since I don’t have a truck or a trailer yet, I can really only ride around the house. But this felt like a special occasion; the sun was heading towards the horizon, the sky was blue with big, puffy clouds, and the leaves were all in their full colors.
I found the lunge-rope, the very very long one, and put it in the bags too. After closing the gate, I swung into the saddle and we were off. The road to the big field and my favorite barn has woods on the right and our pasture on the left. It smelled like leaves everywhere. Tug walked at an easy pace, ears forward, and soon we reached the field. Turning off the road, I jogged him up the gentle slope to the crown of the hill. With the road and the barn behind us, we had the perfect view of the sunset between the valley. To the right is the road to town behind a row of trees, and to the left, a huge mountain dome. It’s almost perfectly round, stands half covered by trees, and half by grass. Just next to that is the Bays Mountain ridge, the one I can see from my bedroom window.
I loosened the girth on the saddle and put the lunge rope on Tug’s halter. We split the apple and I settled in the grass with my book. After looking around, he realized we weren’t going anywhere and he started to eat. Jeff Case, who owns the field, is a good friend of ours. They use the 60-something acres to cut hay, the last cut was just a few weeks ago, so the grass is green and thick and has grown back to about 8 inches long. Perfect for me to lay in and Tug to snack on.
After a while, the neighbors hound dogs came to investigate. There are 2 big bloodhounds, 3 beagles, a basset hound and a little old terrier. Since we weren’t rabbits or squirrels, they loped off down the valley to the hill, the terrier quickly falling behind, and the basset hound didn’t even go at all. He sniffed the air and whined, waiting for his pack to return. I got lost in my book and the sound of Tug happily munching until I heard the dogs baying. They found something to track, I could see them like little brown ants on the side of the green mountain. Oh to be a dog with the freedom to follow your nose.
Since I was looking around, I noticed a dark gray cloud heading our way. Sure enough, a few rain drops started to fall on the open pages of my book and I decided to pack it in. After putting everything back in the saddle bags, Tug and I started down the hill back to the road. And that was when the downpour hit. Tug didn’t care at all, he was happy to stay and eat grass or go home and eat grain. We jogged back down the road, I unlocked the gate, and we headed for the barn.
There is nothing like being in the barn when it rains. The drops on the tin roof sound like music, the wind whips up and smells fresh and clean, the warm hay and dry dirt on the ground make it cozy. I put the tack away and unpacked the saddle bags, brushing Tug again and giving him dinner. I leaned against the tack room and opened my book again, although it was getting dark fast. I didn’t see why I couldn’t at least finish the chapter.