Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater

Volcanic Eruption?

March 23, 2015

Tags: owls, blue herons, blue potatoes, carrots, bainbridge, garden, rock farm, Helpline House

Adding lime to the soil at the Rock Farm
No, la jefa of the Rock Farm Community Garden, Anita Rockefeller, spread lime over all of our plots, creating this eerie landscape. I happened to be there Thursday before the evening rain soaked the fine powder into the earth. The darker front rows are my plot, where I turned it in and planted a row of blue potatoes and a row of carrots. Next, we will spread a layer of compost. Supposedly, we should avoid turning the soil too much. This should encourage a build up of compost and keep carbon sequestered in the soil, where it belongs.

Spring is here after an unusually dry winter, during which our moisture was turned into snow and dumped on the east coast. The rains have begun on a regular basis, and the warmer weather makes the blue herons broody. They have begun standing on last year's nests in their rookery, making a noise like rusty gates. A local owl was up at 4:00 this morning, playing his mournfully beautiful flute.

I have been browsing through seeds and plants in the area, and found a strawberry pot which will grow the plants vertically, taking up less garden space. Unfortunately, it cost about three times what I expected to pay. Instead, the clerk generously offered me one she has at home and is not using. Maybe I can leave a gift card at the nearby espresso stand for her.

I have two more rows to plant, plus my rhubarb plant that has begun showing its leaves above the surface. Maybe this year I will plant broccoli and bush beans. The garden also grows food for Helpline House, a place for those in need. I still have kale in the freezer from last fall, so I think I planted too much. We hope the neighbor will let us keep a potted tomato plant on his porch, which offers strong sunshine and easy access from our house.

Spring daydreaming. Let me know what you expect to plant.

With Cowichan Elder Hyamiciate, Della (Rice) Sylvester at the The Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium


Selected Works

Creative nonfiction, memoir, environmental sustainability.
Combining memoir, historical records, and a blueprint for sustainability, The Deepest Roots shows us how an island population can mature into responsible food stewards and reminds us that innovation, adaptation, diversity, and common sense will help us make wise decisions about our future. And along the way, we learn how food is intertwined with our present but offers a path to a better understanding of the future.
Creative Nonfiction
Essays on Family and Writing

The Desert Remembers My Name makes an important contribution to discussions of ethnicity, identity, and the literature of place.”
Bloomsbury Review
"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
"She never forgot the power of storytelling as testimony."
The Utne Reader
"Kathleen Alcalá's Spirits of the Ordinary is an enthralling book..."
–Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Books

"This book entered my dreams."
–Alberto Rios
Short Fiction
"Thoroughly satisfying."
The New York Times Book Review

"By turns touching, entertaining, and surprising, and uniquely her own."
Publishers Weekly

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