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Rhubarb, Full Circle

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When we last left the Horticulture Chimp, she was grubbing out two baby rhubarb plants from an abandoned farmstead in North Dakota. Ann Hoffert had just seen and heard her life veery, and everyone was happy. Except perhaps the rhubarb plants, which rode to their new home in Ohio in the Chimp's boot, got potted up, yellowed and dropped a couple of leaves and then shrugged and made more. It was mid-June 2011.

The rhubarb went into the Heirloom Bed, where only the most special vegetables and flowers live. It's full of sandy loam and manure, memories and dreams.

The rhubarb liked it there with the asparagus and the spearmint and the old birdbath my dad made out of a disc. Disc, like a disc from a tractor implement. I'd be using it as a birdbath yet but it rusted through, iron being iron. I took it to a welder to fix it but it rusted through again so now it is an odd and not very pretty lawn ornament, unless you knew my dad, and then you'd think it was beautiful.

The rhubarb grew and grew, spreading great flat leaves to the sun, making lovely red stems full of tart flavor.

September rolled around and Ann Hoffert came to visit and attend the Midwest Birding Symposium with her lifelong friend Terry. Who is wearing my binoculars in this photo but don't be confused. I'm a little taller.

I took them for a walk down Dean's Fork (a must-see for Ohio guests)

and Ann Hoffert was so happy to see my habitat, as I am always so happy to see hers

that she hugged us both as we took in the old houses and barns of my favorite dirt road.

I shook her down a pawpaw and showed her tall ironweed

and great lobelia

and an adorable young guy who was checking the oil rigs in a homemade truck made out of plywood, Plexiglas and an ATV

and we went home and I made Ann and Terry the perfect avocado and homegrown lettuce and tomato BLT (I am drooling just looking at this)

and we ate and talked and for dessert

I had finally harvested the rhubarb

and mixed it with fresh September local apples

and covered it with cobbler crumbs cut with almonds and coconut

and butter and vanilla

and baked it (this is before baking; we were too busy eating to take a post-baking picture)

and served it, this rhubarb that had grown beneath the singing veery, Ann's life veery;

rhubarb that had come home in a boot from North Dakota and was now growing happily in Ohio, donating stems to a dessert I'd made that was now on a plate in front of our dearest North Dakota friend.

 It's for full-circle moments like that that I live. 


I have to be careful not to read your blog in public, your stories tend to make me cry, in a good way. Thanks for sharing.

Your posts are chockablock full of life. I'm richer for reading them, they nourish my spirit. Now I'll have to look for some rhubarby thing at the store! They often have strawberry rhubarb pie and I will get a slice and savor this fine story by the Horticulture Chimp. @>----

That sandwich! Oh, that sandwich looks amazing. I love rhubarb in the spring when you can almost stand outside and watch it grow. Lovely post.

That's about as full as a circle gets, leaving your spirit and appetite sated.

There's nothing quite like sharing rustled plants with friends. My biggest haul -- snowdrops from a soon-to-be-bulldozed-for-yet-another-hideous-shopping-center estate -- weren't edible. But my friend Patty and I savor them each spring, as they bloom in ever-bigger clumps dotting our properties.

W.R.sez: Speaking of,"there's nothing like"... being on hand the day the first rhubarb shoots break ground in the early spring. First buds, then those miraculous unfolding umbrellas, usually same day, if there's sun enough.

Posted by Anonymous March 20, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Nobody can tell a story like you Julie! (...and who else would even attempt to tell a story about a rhubarb plant!)

The disc is also beautiful. The Zickifi are really big on rhubarb! Oh so good!

Posted by Anonymous March 20, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Wonderful post! And yum!

Yum--I love rhubarb. Is it an acquired taste? I hope not--I want it to be around for a long time.

Rhubarb doesn't grow well here due to the heat, but it always takes me back to my grrandparents home in Glen Campbell, PA.
Also, my grandfather worked maintaining the many gas wells scattered in the coal stuffed PA mountains. He loved being out there in his pickup, driving the backroads and I loved going with him when We went up in the summer.

Your picture of the rusty well and the well checker took me on my own full circle trip.
Thank you.

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