Monday, November 9, 2009

Right in my own backyard.

We're moving this week. And boy am I sick of takeout. 

And I know soon enough the day will come when the boxes have been loaded and unloaded, packed and unpacked, everything will have found its new place in its new home, and I will finally be able to stand at my new stove and return to good food. But right now, that seems many takeout meals away. And that is a little upsetting to me. The frozen pizzas and jarred spaghetti sauces have turned me into a bit of a zombie.

Which is probably why I somehow missed the miracle happening right in my own (new) backyard.

When I first looked at the house we ended up renting, it was a rainy day. It was the 15th house I'd looked at in a week, and everything was starting to blur together. I remember looking at the backyard and thinking: Meh, it will do. At least there's a pool.

So this weekend, when we were loading in some of our items and the sun was shining in that California way, and I walked around the neglected beds and gazed up at the ancient trees, I was shocked, SHOCKED at all that I had missed.

Before I tell you what I found, I want to clarify that I am not rich, or privileged. I am simply a Californian, and we are a fortunate, spoiled bunch. The garden I have is shockingly typical for a 50's house in Southern California. And that, dear readers, is the miracle.

In my typical backyard, I found dozens of lilies waiting for spring.  I found roses, in every color and size, and so fragrant you need not bend toward it to smell its perfume.

I found Birds of Paradise, strong and regal and peacock-like. 

There is bougainvillea, daisies, and trees as high as the sky.

But that's not the miracle.

The miracle is that we have a TROPICAL FRUIT GARDEN in our very own backyard.

There is a pomegranate tree, banana trees, an avocado tree, a mango tree...

Several citrus trees, including grapefruit and lemon...

A long, lone grape vine...

And a cherimoya tree full of knobby infant fruit...

As my mom pointed out, it is like I unlocked my own Secret Garden, except that the garden happens to be full of tropical fruits. It needs some pruning and a lot of love, but I seem to have an abundance of that these days. So we're a good fit, this garden and I.

I will be planting an epic herb garden as soon as we're settled, and I can't wait to waddle out to my back yard and forage for treats. 

In the meantime, do me a favor. Cook something. Do it for me. There are few things as important to me, as romantic, as powerful as the soul-satisfying process of preparing food. I'll think about you, all snug in your kitchens, the aromas and flavors filling your home, as  I call in my takeout order tonight. And I will think of the garden, and know this will all be worth it.


  1. I'm roasting squash and brussel sprouts as we speak. I'll eat a sprout for you! SO jealous of your tropical fruit garden! That is something a girl in the midwest just doesn't see. I'll cook for you if you squeeze some fresh lime on something for me!

  2. Cabbage, barley, and chicken soup for supper last night. If you lived closer, I'd invite you over to have a bowl...

  3. How about some homemade clam chowder and a roasted chicken?

  4. YEA for your garden! I can't wait to come and see it. Let me know if you find out a secret for growing sweet Pomegranates...mine are SOUR, but they still taste great in Champagne! Pretty soon you will remember what that tastes like;) Miss you Friend.

  5. that is fantastic! How fun it will be for you! I would love to have fruit trees in my backyard..... enjoy!


  6. I am in the same boat as you. NOT the pregnant boat but the moving boat:) We just moved from Florida to northern Kentucky and we have been eating out for about 3 weeks now. My husband had to come up earlier then I did and then I flew up with my son to drop him off to then fly back to Florida to meet the movers. Needless to say, they were in a hotel room for 2 weeks and we just moved in on Tuesday. I am tired of eating out every day too. I did get a great Electrolux stove that I am SO excited about using but it will still be about a week or so before any cooking is going on. You are so lucky to live in California. I just love it out there and everything is so lush and beautiful.

  7. Thinking of you moving! Hope that the trees (and life) bear many fruit. We don't have a yard, but we have a patio and the husband is an avid container gardener -- I reap the culinary benefits of meyer lemons, bears limes, zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs galore.

  8. Hi! I made you some baked chicken, sauteed green beans and sweet potato fries!
    Sending digital Tupperware full of it!

  9. I hope you're already in your new home, but if not I will be thinking of you as I peel and chop a butternut squash and toss with olive oil and sage, then roast for our dinner tonight...

  10. What a great garden to have in your new home. I recently stumbled upon your blog, think its fabulous. Would be great to know what you're reading when you're not cooking! I'm also an avid reader...

  11. You must still be busy with your new place, miss you! Hope all is well and settled, in time for the holidays.
    Your garden is just brimming with the best tropical fruits. From the inventory, I'm assuming the original gardeners must be Asian. My parents have the exact same fruit trees! ha ha! xoxo

  12. Lucky you. Your new garden is going to be fantastic. I've been cooking eough for both of us lately--my first real bowl of udon and some fantastic oatmeal, chocolate, and fresh ginger cookies...just to name a couple of goodies. Happy homemaking & gardening!

  13. I know this feeling of awe at the abundance of California. When I moved here 13 years ago, I was amazed by having roses in January. I'm still amazed. Lovely post. I'm glad you found your new home.

  14. Wow, what an amazing find. Gotta love California, we can grow anything here.