Thistles With Hollandaise, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:05am


It’s August.

In Northern California, by this time, everything looks a little frayed. Our rainless summers start to tell. Even though blue skies will last well into October, late summer is, to me, a time when when if we turned our heads a little bit faster we’d see the shadow of sad escaping. What was going up, descends.

In some kind of parallel, I believe I’m in the late summer of my own life. But I feel less distress about aging, now that it’s happening, than I used to when I was young and my old age far away. It is what it is. It’s almost a comfort to experience what used to scare me, in the abstract.

Why then feel any sorrow at the state of my hydrangeas? They certainly seem quite content. Brashly pink, here and there.

I worry that if I never felt sorrow I might never know glad. Maybe I’m wrong. I could always be wrong.

Another thing.

Used to be that privilege gave us the resources to isolate ourselves from the natural world. First sign of wealth and you could build fireplaces as big as a kitchen, roll yourself up in fur rugs for winter sleeping, or decamp to your hill fort to survive July’s heat.

But if I look around, and consider, it seems to me that privilege in this day and age gives us a chance to stay close to the natural world, cruel or not, and bring our resources to bear on surviving life as it happens. Surfing, let’s say, rather than motoring by in a big cruiser.

Although I have nothing against boats. That was just a metaphor. Metaphors are another way to muster resources, to bring us within snapping distance of cruel. Still survive.

In the meantime, there are some big dang thistles in my side yard. My son’s window view is filled with 8-foot weeds. Completely filled. His best friend was over the other day. She’s an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major at Harvard. I mention that for a reason. It’s funny, I promise.

I was telling my son he needs to whack those thistles. That’s how he’s paying me back for some last minute extra cash needs for his final two weeks in Latin America. His friend piped up, “Oh no, don’t cut them down,” she said. “I can cook them.” “They’re thistles!” I said. “Oh,” she said, “Thistles are delicious.”

She’s probably right. The thistle family, after all, includes artichokes. Perfect with hollandaise.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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26 Comments

  • 08/07/10
    8:36 am

    Reply

    Suburban Princess said...

    Thistles aren't actually weeds….even if the govt says they are. It's the national flower of Scotland ya know.

  • 08/07/10
    11:31 am

    Reply

    Staircase Witch said...

    On the graves of Scottish soldiers, on the Marne and on the Somme and outside of Ypres–all over the Western front, actually–are planted thistles. That is what I think of whenever I see them now.

  • 08/07/10
    11:57 am

    Reply

    EntertainingMom said...

    Dandelion greens are weeds too. Served in the finest restaurants. Late summer of your life… seriously????? Easily a good 20 years away.

  • 08/07/10
    12:45 pm

    Reply

    La Belette Rouge said...

    If thistles have hearts like artichokes then count me in.;-)

  • 08/07/10
    12:47 pm

    Reply

    the gardeners cottage said...

    hi lpc,

    i'm shocked you feel at 53 that you are in the late summer of your life. i'm 52 and feel like a teenager again (a wrinkled one though.) no kids, no big responsibilities, finally some freedom with a little money and a tiny bit of wisdom. all this makes for a killer combo in my opinion.

    ~janet

  • 08/07/10
    12:58 pm

    Reply

    Paula said...

    Your today's post matches the atmosphere in front of Schönbrunn palace in my yesterday's posting. To me.
    It also is the time of the year when the city is finally deserted. which would be a bad metaphor. One's life should not become deserted like a city on a mild summer evening! This would be truly sad.

  • 08/07/10
    2:54 pm

    Reply

    hostess of the humble bungalow said...

    It's pouring rain here today…the first in many weeks.
    I'm with you on the knowing sorrow allows you to know glad…..
    and the aging thing…it's nice to be here in the now and know what we know….we've come to it honestly.

  • 08/07/10
    7:09 pm

    Reply

    Concrete Jungle said...

    I rarely read throughly the 'personal' thoughts on blogs but this time I am glad I did.

  • 08/07/10
    7:56 pm

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Suburban – How did I not know that?

    Staircase – And I will think the same thing now. My family name is Scottish.

    EntertainingMom – I know, I love to stirfry dandelion greens.

    Gardeners – Late summer seems pretty good to me:), assuming I've got all the way until the dead of winter.

    Paula – Just because there is quiet doesn't mean desertion, I agree.

  • 08/07/10
    7:57 pm

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Hostess – Yes, we've come to it honestly and I don't mind looking around and seeing where I am.

    Concrete – Thank you very much. You honor me enormously by reading. I am a lucky woman.

  • 08/08/10
    12:20 am

    Reply

    Shelley said...

    I've long looked at aging as a sort of adventure. I'm hoping one day to wake up and look in the mirror and see my Mom! There are lots of thistles around here in the North of England, though not thankfully in our garden – they are a bit spiky. Must do some internet research and find a thistle recipe!

  • 08/08/10
    12:50 am

    Reply

    metscan said...

    I loved reading your post. I don´t like aging. The comfort is, that this is happening to all others my age too, and there is nothing we can do about it, nothing. In many ways life is more simple now, in many ways not. But, lets face it, the best age is now!

  • 08/08/10
    4:28 am

    Reply

    The Mrs. said...

    I would like to see her eat a thistle! That is one prickley pear!

  • 08/08/10
    7:16 am

    Reply

    mrsbasement said...

    i love love love your saturday morning posts. happy saturday. er, sunday.

  • 08/08/10
    7:50 am

    Reply

    Belle de Ville said...

    Please let us know when you actually get around to cooking the thistles. I love a good culinary adventure!
    Since I am in your age group, I guess that I too am in the late summer of my life. Like the Hostess said in her comment, it's nice to be here now and to know what we know.

  • 08/08/10
    9:25 am

    Reply

    Susan Tiner said...

    Beautifully written post. Late Summer comes right before my favorite season. It is a time of anticipation, possibilities. Like the gardeners cottage, I too feel like a teenager at 52. I think I've eaten thistles at Chez Panisse. Can't wait to hear how they taste.

  • 08/08/10
    6:02 pm

    Reply

    MJ said...

    I like the idea of being in the late summer of my life – particularly since fall has always been my favorite season.

  • 08/09/10
    2:37 am

    Reply

    Faux Fuchsia said...

    You are a veritable whippersnapper Lisa xx

  • 08/09/10
    7:31 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Shelley – I think an adventure is the best way to look at it. I don't see my mother, but I hear her when I talk:).

    Metscan – The best age is definitely now.

    The Mrs. – Ha!

    mrsbasement – Thank you so much. I write them for people like you, and for myself. Everyone else is a good sport about it.

    Belle – If she ever cooks them, I will document.

  • 08/09/10
    7:32 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Susan – Thank you. Late summer is when we prepare to go to school, right?

    MJ – I don't mind it either. I love fall too.

    FF – Ha. I suppose I will have to whip and snap a bit more than usual today.

  • 08/09/10
    10:00 am

    Reply

    Nellie said...

    At age 70, I still don't feel as though I am in the "late summer of my life." Give me 20 more years, and I will tell you then how I feel.

  • 08/09/10
    1:32 pm

    Reply

    Susan Tiner said...

    Yes, I can still smell the chalk board and see the bright new pennies in my penny loafers.

  • 08/12/10
    6:26 am

    Reply

    Maureen@IslandRoar said...

    I like what you said both about aging and metaphors. And I agree that if you can't embrace sorrow, do you ever truly feel joy?
    Your son's friend reminds me of my daughter. She always wants me to add the dandelions I pull each spring to a salad. Maybe that's what I should bring to the next pot-luck: a thistle and dandelion salad.

  • 08/18/10
    12:38 am

    Reply

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