The rhubarb in my garden has yet to go to seed. It is bold and unruly. It gets into places I don’t want it to be, but that’s mostly my fault. My lack of proper perimeter keeping. My lack of understanding spatial distances. I’m terrible at such things. Truly terrible. And because I am flawed and human my 10 rhubarb plants will have to be dug again in the fall, and moved around to a more suitable home. A home that is not plopped in one place or another, but orderly, I think, perhaps all in a row. It’s OK, they are resilient plants after all. It’s what I like best about them.
I have spent my life eating the green stalks with a blush of red. Mine are narrow, thin and unassuming. They are not the harsh lipstick red of a woman’s mouth. They are not the fat and lush rhubarb of the supermarket. They are of my grandmother’s garden, which were from her son’s garden in a house he’s now lived in for the past 30 years. The plant was there when he moved in. We assume it was planted by the elderly woman who sold them the flat-front house with the long and narrow driveway. And so her legacy lives on in the tart, stringy first spring fruit.
After traveling most of the last year, the tours have come to an end and I now find myself tucked into the cubbyhole of my office. Tracing the lines of notes written on a steno pad and being grateful for the scent of rain on the countryside. How in the early spring the grass in Nebraska and Iowa brightens against a soft blue sky full of painted clouds; how the golden dry stalks of last year’s bluestem continue to reach toward it and how brilliant it all seems. The colors of a Great Plains spring are breathtaking to me.
We live in the country; I’m surrounded by farmland and horses. We do not farm. We have two small acres where we live and where my gardens grow. I’m peaceful for the first time in years. Not under the screen of social media. The pull of recognition. I am quiet. I am drawing on my craft to tell this story of scones and how my son’s hands looked as he cut the flour with butter. How I noticed the fat of his fingers is fading, but still precious and simple and lovely. It is the spring of his life, so full of promise. It is my daughter and her wry sense of humor and her competitive spirit. It’s her kindness and her candor.
It is the season of rhubarb custard-filled ramekins and the way my husband smiles because it’s his favorite, and he knows I made it for him, not simply of my own doing, but because winter submitted to spring and the season bore food for me, so I could offer myself to him through it.