Tuesday, August 4, 2009


The moth flapped its wings against the screen of the kitchen window, drawing our black cat's attention. The latter jumped onto the wooden table, which abutted the window, his attention rapt by the fluttery wings, the tap-tap-tap they made against the screen. His paws set themselves squarely on the table's edge, his head moved ever so slightly as the moth went in and out of his field of vision. At the open window, I sipped White Peony, its white tea essence smooth and barely sweet in my mouth. Soon, our gray cat joined the party. More impetuous, she flailed her brindled paw impotently at the disappearing moth. The prospective prey now gone, both cats dispersed into the living room, jumping down with a thump.

The breeze rustled, drawing itself through the window, and I felt it against my cheeks. I heard the neighborhood kids, their voices occasionally breaking the silence. A garage door clanked open, and our neighbor's yellow Volkswagen Bug emerged. I waved to her as she sped by. It was already early afternoon, and I rose to prepare dinner.

Contents from our friends' CSA box sat waiting in the fridge. For a week, we would sample the bounty from a local farm, thanks to our friends, now traveling overseas. Beets with their chard-like leaves, mixed lettuces, along with giant cucumbers and a kohlrabi, packed our small fridge to its limit. I peered into the leafy thicket and pulled out my quarry: a tangled bunch of basil, still caked with soil, in a plastic bag. Its scent tingled my nostrils, and I set out to make pesto for dinner.

I washed the leaves, the dirt rinsed away in a thin, dark rivulet. I culled them, stemmed, now in a dark green mass and watched the varied-sized fronds whirred about in the blender, slicked with olive oil and headily aromatic with bits of chopped garlic.

We sat down to dinner, plates of steaming noodles topped with pesto sauce. I filled our cups with more White Peony -only mildly-caffeinating as it was now early evening. I thought of, in years past, going to the Saigon outdoors market with my mom. We passed vendors with their rickety tables, underneath canvas awnings. The tables groaned under the weight of piled-high produce and meat. Sights and smells pressed on me: flayed fish with silvery fins, a cage of squawking chickens, the rank smell of the abattoir from the dangling pigs on makeshift hooks. I held my mom's hand tightly as we walked through the din; vendors, shoppers, a leper with his outstretched stump of a limb, all in a blur.
Now, we sipped our tea and ate pasta with pesto in the fading light as clouds scudded by. The rich basil taste lingered long after we finished dinner.


dW said...

what a lovely story.

Cha sen said...

Thanks to you and A for the CSA box which inspired it.

A said...

We should give you our farm box every week! It's never been so beautifully documented. Glad you enjoyed it.