I’m from Louisiana.  Don’t make too much out of that.  I wouldn’t live there again for all the crawfish in Lafayette.  But I’d love to have a couple pounds of those juicy little buggers right now.  I am in the mood for some crawfish creole.  The key, of course is the sauce.  You got the sauce, you got it made.

Creole sauce is a basic staple in Louisiana cooking and there are as many recipes for it as there are cooks who want to make it.  I mean, you may want to have some chicken or shrimp or crawfish or scallops or crab or whatever: all of those wonderful things just cry out for a home in a pot of creole sauce.  

Here’s what you do.  Take a heavy bottom pot and put some EVOO in it and bring it up to heat.  Chop or julianne a medium onion (these amounts are strictly a matter of preference – not written in stone) a small bell pepper and a couple stalks of celery and a few cloves of garlic and saute that until it gets limp.  Keep it moving.  Don’t answer the phone or check your profile in the mirror or anything or you will loose it.

Next, I like to add a little tomato paste, 3 or 4 tablespoons.  This is for thickening and may be left out if desired.  It gets muddy and thick but keep things moving and you will be alright. Don’t worry if a little sticks to the bottom of the pot, it will come loose later. Then add a can of diced tomatoes with the juice (when your fresh crop comes in use them, of course) and mix that for a while until it is all even.  That’s when you add some stock slowly until you reach a consistency you like.  I like mine somewhat thick but the traditional sauce is thinner.  Not thin, but thinner than mine.  

Now, if you want to experiment a little with the consistency, take a little flour and sprinkle it on the mix before the stock is added and this will add to the thickening and give it more of a gravy like character.  I like that.  Don’t add too much.

I will always use basil, parsley, bay leaf, and sometimes thyme.  S & P of course. OK, I’ll confess, I use some ground chili, like Chimayo, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimayo,_New_Mexico
http://www.penderys.com/, or just some Cajun seasoning such as Tony Chachere, http://www.tonychachere.com/, who is down in Opelousas.  I’ve actually seen some of his stuff in the stores here.  The thing is as always, season to your taste.

So, you simmer this sauce for 20 or so minutes and if you are using seafood, add it now and cook until that is done – another 5 or 10 minutes.  If you are using chicken you can season it and brown it earlier and add it to the sauce and let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Add stock as needed.  Serve over rice.  No sides necessary unless you are up to making some hushpuppies.  

If you can wait until tomorrow to eat it it will be better.  Don’t ask me why.   A little crisp white wine would be good.  A little quiet Zydeco in the background.  Quiet Zydeco?  Did I say that?

The Summer Solstice often passed without much notice. It’s the first official day of summer. It is the longest period of daylight in the year. For us Druids, that a big deal. This time it was clear skies and almost perfect temperatures. Dry, cool, but not cold air. That kind that those souls enjoy who live in Nirvana, or heaven. or Pownal, Maine.

It was nearing the 9 PM hour and I decided to take a stroll around outside and see the last rays of the day as they faded into a purple evening and bed time. There was so much light I felt wonderfully blessed.

I made a few iPhone photos and have included them here without much comment, as an ode to the light we have when we have it, and a sharing with friends.


The first thing I saw were these “Stars of Gold” (Stella d’Oro). I love them dearly. Their common beauty sets the standard for those expensive hybrids ordered from White’s.


These tiny beauties defy description. Enough said.


The alluring “outback”. It won’t be long until the critters invade this area.


This oriental willow came home in the trunk of my car 5 or 6 years ago. In the near dark, it glows at 15 feet. It’s getting out of hand. Not!


The garden gate. I always wanted to have a reason to say that.


Our play pen. It’s getting there. Yes – that’s a purple pyramid. It makes great beans. Deal with it.


Honeysuckle. I can remember the aroma of the southern kind that could be detected a block away. These Northern types rely entirely on their beauty.


Not to be outdone, these volunteers are ready to stand against anyone. What is more perfect?


Time to go inside and have a cup of tea. Almost a shame to do so, considering that the days light now will be diminishing, I think to the tune of about 4 minutes a day until that dark night in December when darkness holds us in it’s cold grip.


A garden heart. I mean, what’s a garden without a heart? Be well and stay tuned.

Jerry Henderson

I have read a few stories about writers who spend hours in restaurants, bistros, bars, parks and libraries tapping into that special inspiration available only in such public venues. It is sometimes implied that writing produced in such an unlikely place is somehow better.  I don’t believe a word of it.

I harbor no such illusions. As a matter of fact I seem to do best when there are no “public” distractions around me. (Disclaimer: by “do best” I do not infer any measure of quality or even grammatical correctness to what I write. Doing best, simply refers to me having fun and being in some way satisfied with the process and now and then the product.)

I used to write poems more than I do now, and I often pulled out a pad and pencil to jot down a memorable word or phrase or idea. Seldom did a full blown verse appear in the restaurant or bus stop or on the park bench where I happened to be at the time. That instant recording of the fleeting thought proved, on more than a few occasions, to have been helpful. Not altogether unlike amending a grocery list on the way to the market.

These days, when I write, I find that I mostly do so on the keyboard. I never would have dreamt that I’d say that. I have always been a pencil ( of the lead type ) and paper writer, and find that tactility – the scratch of the lead upon the paper – to be a satisfying sensation. It makes me flash back to those Big Chief lined tablets at Wyandotte Elementary. Nowadays I find that if I think I’ll be out long and will have any time to myself, I will include my laptop in my kit bag and quite often never even light it up. But it’s there, should the flash of inspiration suddenly blind me.

( Disclaimer #2: I am presently in a public place patiently waiting for a sudden stroke of location inspiration. So far, I might as well be napping on my couch at home. )

I am reminded of that period in my adult middle life when I was single, how in such situations, I would be more interested in staking out the shapely form of the female bottom, or the profile of a smallish bust line, letting my mind do the rest of the work. Fortunately for all who could possibly be characters in my fantasy play, I am, these days, as likely to pursue such an action as I am to fly. I will say, however, that given the exigences of aging, which include the progressive and irrevocable process of deterioration, the mind is as racy as ever. Blessing or burden? Forgive me Jesus, but you-know-Who gave me the mind in the first place. Deal with it.

As I have noted: nothing is happening. There is one thing and it is this: I rather enjoy doing this in a public place. So far, I have seen few people as they passed down one or the other aisles in this library. I’ll have to try this in a coffee shop soon. More stimulation. I see people in coffee shops with their huge computers and they are constantly looking around to see who’s looking back. I want to tell them to find the darkest and most remote corner and stay out of the way, AND don’t take up that nice window seat where I actually want to sit and have an actual cup of coffee, dammit!

When I am really brave, I’ll try a bar. The problem there is that I never have been a bar guy. And after a few beers I am liable to say things, for which, I would rather not be held accountable. If you know what I mean.

Well, I have a book to check out. Really. Then it’s off to an afternoon of digging in the dirt. No matter how I try, I can’t escape the overwhelming ordinariness of my life. I don’t even think I can say with a straight face, “I couldda been a contender”. But if the truth be known, and surely it must, it’s what’s happening now that is important. And now, I am having fun in a public library.

A glass of summer ale would indeed be nice.

I am tooling along at a moderate clip, following my Honda self-propelled lawn mower, sweating profusely in the heat and long sleeves and pants that hopefully thwart the sun’s rays and the fly’s gnawing assault.  Unless you have endless circles, ellipses or Didos to deal with this task is best suited for the individual who thrives on the less challenging of chores around the plantation.  

A lawn mower is machinery and one must not loose sight of that fact.  Outside of that fact, however, cutting grass is one of life’s most ubiquitous repetitive tasks.  

The grass is dry and the Honda is performing dead on its specifications.  I am blissfully intoxicated with unconsciousness except for the velcro tune that keeps going through my empty head – my work mantra.  Today it was “Dark Town Strutter’s Ball”, a tune I have mentioned in the past, having to do at that time, I believe, with stacking wood.  All is going well until I realize I am paying undue attention to the straightness of my cut.  Wait a minute, I say, who cares about the line I am cutting?  Then it came to me – I apparently do.

Even on large areas I find that I am cutting out squares, rectangles, triangles, right and otherwise, parallelograms, trapezoids and rhomboids.  I am not a compulsive person.  But I love a straight line.  I am always correcting.  Cutting a little more on this end to make it come even at the other end.  Or lopping off a bulge in the middle of a cut to straighten out the line.

There’s something about a straight line.  It is so basic to our lives.  I think I would have made a good surveyor.  But I think they need multiplication and long division.  Always something.  

I am reminded of that passage, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But, small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  I, of the straight line, am among the few.   OK, so I am loosely applying the rules of interpretation here.  So what? He who cuts grass by way of the straight line is of a more noble cut.  Deal with it.

All hail the perfect square – the right triangle – the lovely rhomboid.  All consisting of lines, perfectly straight.  Did I mention there wasn’t a dry rag on me when I got done?  The straightest line of the day was to the shower.

“Then, if ever come perfect days.”

We can surely hope that Lowell’ statement on the first real summer month is right. For those of us living barely south of the boreal regions, it is a month of hope, planting, lawn mowing, deck furniture and crossed fingers.

We had fires into June last year and the year before. I mention that only to promote humility (My own) as I speak of the natural order. The natural order seems, these days, out of order, but June is indeed the right time to dig in the dirt and adjust your costume to take advantage of soft breezes, letting your skin take a little air.

(I’ll mention black flies only parenthetically, as I hope this is the year that they are not so bad. Am I the only one?)

June is also the time for perspective. There is a heaping pile of stove wood in the yard and we will attack it with some vigor today, knowing it won’t all be done. It’s the beginning that’s important. We know it’s for a good cause. Even though our under arms are wet and we take frequent sips to maintain hydration, we know the lesson of seasons: this too shall pass and there will be a time to feed the fiery belly of the stove – again.

Hello June! You are looking good. Throw off your coat and stay a while. I’ll make some iced tea and lift the deck umbrella and we’ll watch the shadows move across the day.