The pretty pink bloom cascading down our creek bank is evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), an all-around edible plant. I've read that the leaves can be cooked like greens--maybe I'll add them to the next batch of kale. The roots can be boiled like potatoes and are said to taste like parsnips (if anybody remembers what those taste like). I've used the flowers in salads and as a garnish, and steamed the young seedpods like peas. Some have roasted the seeds (15 min. at 350°) for use on bread or in salads. It's been used by native herbalists to treat asthma, eczema, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and circulatory problems; and by modern herbalists,to treat premenstrual stress. This year, it's everywhere in large pink colonies, and beautiful. We love to see it in our meadows and pastures, but there might be too much of a good thing if this were in my garden.
Garden report. Such a glorious spring in the veggie garden! We ducked a small hail storm and sheltered the early stuff through a couple of freezes, so now we're enjoying fresh lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, and snow peas, with cabbage to come in a couple of weeks. Most of the spring garden is in--all but the sweet potatoes and a couple of late plantings of melons.
Book report. Blood Orange is on my Prime Crime editor's desk, and I've been working on another project (news about that soon, I think). When that's done, I'll go back to the memoir my brother and I have been working on, off and on. Bittersweet (China Bayles #23) is out there in the world and getting good reviews, and A Wilder Rose continues to flourish.
On the road. I'm in Houston later this month, and New Braunfels in early May. Details here. You've probably noticed that I'm not out and about as much as I have been in earlier years. Part of it is the Internet--it's so easy to connect with people this way than it is to get in the car and drive hither and yon. And while the Internet isn't environmentally-neutral, it has less impact (and more effectiveness) than a 5,000-mile road trip. The other part of it is that I find myself wanting to stay home and write and garden, and feel blessed that I can make this my choice.
Reading. One of my readers clued me in to a mystery writer I'd somehow missed: Archer Mayor. I've just started Open Season (the first in his Joe Gunther series) and like it very much. Finished Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth, by Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer. Not exactly untold, but at least untold together--and in this case, the dual biography format does produce some new insights. Don't be put off by the breezy style, which tends to mask the very real, and original, scholarship behind the book. Very much worth reading, if you're interested in the Roosevelts.
Reading note. Trapped in gothic seclusion by her grandmother, Eleanor knew more about the love life of the Romantic poets than she did about acting like a teenager. The clothes, the jargon, the latest dances— it was all lost on her. One year she showed up wearing the same blue dress as the year before, now several inches too short. Another time she wore long black stockings and a white organdy dress that stopped above the knee, giving her a pre– What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? look. “No one, young or old, wore very short skirts in those days, even for sports, but her grandmother bought her a dress that could have been for a five-year-old,” said Corinne Alsop.--Hissing Cousins