When we moved here nearly 30 years ago, there were no redbuds, and we didn't have the money to go the nursery and buy some. There was a wild tree with many seedlings along the roadside not far away. So for several years we harvested the little ones, giving them a much better life on their own than they would have had if they'd tried to flourish in Mama's shade. This is one of those seedlings, all grown up and stunning in her springtime purple finery.
But the redbud isn't just pretty to look at. To native people, it was useful, too: they made a tea of the bark to treat diarrhea and dysentery. The purple flowers are edible in salads, and taste a little like pecans. Stir a handful into pancake batter or cornbread. When the seed pods are green and tender, you can cook them like edible-pod peas and serve with butter. There's also redbud relish. Interesting, fun to try.
Book report. Moving forward with the current historical/biographical work-in-progress, enjoying both the writing and the research. I'm reading Herman Wouk's Winds of War and admiring the level of detail he provides--it's the little things (the discussions of current events, the names of real places, the descriptions of real people) that make that book so rich and alive. I also admire Thomas Mallon's historical fiction, especially his novels Watergate and Finale. Amazing use of contemporary, topical detail, sometimes a challenge to the reader. This reader loves it.
Loving Eleanor is out in the world now, to strong reviews and endorsements. The cover will be featured on the front cover of the March 7 issue of Publishers Weekly, which is an important honor. The audiobook will be out next month, along with the large-print library edition. And there'll be a major BookBub promotion, so you can get the book at a low-low price. I'll let you know about that.
Other projects. A couple of weeks ago, I finished this piece of needlepoint.
I loved doing it and would like to share it with you--it's 12"x12", suitable for a wall hanging or a pillow top. We're having a raffle for the benefit of Story Circle, the international women's writing organization I founded in 1997. You can enter here. If you win, I'll send it to you, along with a signed/personalized copy of Loving Eleanor.
Garden report. The first planting of potatoes is flourishing, the spinach is up, onions are plentiful, and the peas (Sugar Ann) and a second planting of potatoes and spinach are in the ground. Currently, though, the best crop is henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) which is flourishing in the beds and paths. It's usually considered a weed, but I use it in salads and--more importantly--feed it to The Girls. They love it (it's not called henbit for nothing). I pull it by the handfuls for them every morning, and the next morning, there's more. But it's a cool-weather plant and will be gone by summer.
Warmer than usual (likely the new normal). We know that El Nino is out there, but so far, the jet stream track has stayed to the north, and we haven't felt much effect. It's been a dry spring, in spite of the promises of our weather forecasters.
Reading note. Gardening is akin to writing stories. No experience could have taught me more about grief or flowers, about achieving survival by going, your fingers in the ground, the limit of physical exhaustion.--Eudora Welty