Mother’s Day dawns, and the seed trays are still awash with autumn seedlings – beetroot, English spinach, sweet red onions, royal oak-leaf lettuces, rainbow chard, golden celery, celeriac and about ten thousand lettuce seedlings. Just finding space for these new seedlings – the last to be planted out before winter begins next month – requires major bed clearing, cutting down a huge olive tree (a story for another day) and trenching and watering to bring back sub-soil moisture that has been neglected over the summer months for lack of water.
All that gets done, and yet Mother’s Day dinner (with the cook as guest-of-honour) looms large over the gardener’s agenda. Fear and panic thread through the garden chores as the unfamiliar approaches with all the uncertainty that the cook faces when she finds herself in the gardener’s shed among strange and inscrutable tools. It’s not that the gardener can’t cook – he just doesn’t. Where exactly is the coconut butter and chicken stock within the cook’s domain?
What I do have access to (because I grew them) are pumpkins, garlic, chillies, bay leaves and sweet potatoes, so its pumpkin soup to kick off with. Salads too are provided fresh from the garden. My son and daughter-in-law live with us while they save for their own home, and she is working on the main course – stuffed capsicums; I grew those too. In the background, the cook is keeping an eye on the elephant in the kitchen, and spends her time turning pizza dough from the freezer - plus tomatoes, basil, olives and red shallots from the garden - into pizzas for later in the week.
Finally, it all gets done and Mother’s Day dinner has pumpkin soup on the menu for entree. Someone should wake the gardener – snoring softly in the corner – to let him know that dinner is on the table…