Cultivated Days | Sweet Pelasures
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Sweet Pelasures

June is a month of sweet pleasures, a time for slowing down and taking in this beautiful place we call home. Songbirds wake me early, their busy chatter heard through open windows. We glide into June on a stretch of benevolent weather. Warm sun and plentiful rains bring a bounty of produce to gardens and markets, an abundance that stirs the spirit to start pickling and preserving. It’s the season of ume and rakkyou and biwa.

This past weekend as I stood in the orchard picking ume, as I perched on the stoop tenderly prying their stems from bellybuttons, as I measured out salt and considered which variations of umeboshi to make, I felt full and grateful and more certain than ever that time is the ultimate luxury. My hours are so often consumed at the computer, writing, editing words, editing photographs, my mind trained on the product. I can forget why I dream this dream. I can forget that the words and images are a secondary love. I can forget that fire that burns at my core when tending, cooking, preserving and learning. I can forget that thrill when I glean new knowledge from a farmer, a cook, or a shopkeeper, and rush off to give something a try.

As we near the solstice a glow stretches deep into evening. Gentle breezes rustle trees thickly leaved and uguisu call to each other. On just a few nights in June we sit down to an eagerly anticipated treat. The table is set with sake and a single dish of shio uni (salted sea urchin). The small serving of crismson umami rich paste with an equally opulent price tag must be savored slowly, each morsel rolled around on the tongue until it melts away. One bite of shio uni, one sip of sake, and so it goes with a bit of conversation in between. Outside the strawberry moon rises.

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  • Sparrow Hart
    Posted at 11:12h, 13 June

    Nice post, Prairie. Don’t forget that fire in the belly, but you do craft words — like you’ve done here — very well.

    • Prairie
      Posted at 06:21h, 15 June

      Runs in the family, doesn’t it?

  • Laura Bryant-Williams
    Posted at 01:36h, 15 June

    Prairie, I have finally taken a moment to read your blog. And so glad I did. We get so many emails I tend to avoid all but the personal. Sounds like some opportunities on the horizon and I am not surprised given the quality of your writing. Enjoyed a lovely stay in Maine recently. Thank you!! Laura

    • Prairie
      Posted at 06:21h, 15 June

      Laura, Thanks so much for taking a look~ Yes, exciting times, indeed. Hope you can get back to Maine again, the house likes the company.

  • Mora Chartrand
    Posted at 15:07h, 15 June

    My sleepy morning eyes opened wide upon viewing the image of salted uni. What a lovely composition. And your words had me tasting this special treat for the very first time. Thank you for your spirit, your dedication, and your focus to your passions. As always… Mora

    • Prairie
      Posted at 05:02h, 17 June

      And many many thanks to you, Mora!

  • Catherine
    Posted at 15:37h, 16 June

    As always, a lovely essay and beautiful image. The umeshu I put up last summer is now ready to drink, so I’ll raise a glass to you, in gratitude for the beauty you bring to all your readers’ lives.

    • Prairie
      Posted at 05:02h, 17 June

      Catherine, I just started ume-shu 2017 last week – cheers!