Moments of Pure Joy

The July Project: Day 24

Once in a while, everything comes together to create the perfect walk. There was an afternoon in Los Angeles in January of last year. I’d spent the day in a conference listening to brilliant people talk about their hopes for the future of human progress. I was high on contagious optimism and altruism. One of my new friends offered to show me the way to Griffith Park. I followed her through rush-hour traffic up into the hills, then she showed me where to park and where the running trail started. As I walked and jogged, the sun went down over the hills on one side and the San Gabriel Mountains faded to deep purple on the other. James Taylor sang “That’s Why I’m Here” on my iPod. I break into a grin from ear to ear / and suddenly it’s perfectly clear. It was an ecstatic moment. I’m sure that my feet never touched the ground.

Dappled sunlight through lacy spring leaves

And I recall an early spring day at Memorial Park in some recent year. Dappled sunlight was coming through the deciduous trees, just beginning to fill in with tender yellow-green leaves. The breeze was warm, and I knew it would only be a few weeks until it was too hot to walk at midday. But on this day, the sun felt great on my pasty-white skin. The soundtrack: Indigo Girls, “The Wood Song.” No one gets to miss the storm of what will be …[MORE]

Scenes from the Backyard: Nature Trumps Nurture

CilantroLast spring, my roommate, our friend (the sous-chef), and I stuck a few cilantro plants in our herb garden. We’d barely harvested any of it before the weather turned hot and the cilantro started blooming. When cilantro is ready to bloom, it sends up stiff flower stems with sparse, frilly leaves that are nearly useless for cooking. And once it begins to blossom, the plant spends all its energy on the process, so you don’t get any new growth of the flavorful broader leaves and soft stems that make up the immature plants. The cilantro was the first of many casualties of last summer’s hot, dry weather.

But now it looks as if last year’s gone-to-seed plants set the stage for this year’s cilantro bumper crop! …[MORE]