The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

My Rhubarb Patch

Hmm. Brains for Zombies? Click for source

Spring is here! Would you like to know how I know this?

  • Slate Coloured Juncos are poking about, feeding on the ground. Back in Southern Ontario, they would have been a sign of winter, but since they “summer” up here, their arrival is a sign of spring. Confused? Don’t be. The birds (and the bees) have it under control, so we’re good.
  • The pond is beginning to thaw and overflow its banks.
  • I hung a load of bedding out on the line and
  • took down the plastic barrier from the bedroom window to air out the house.

And that squeal of delight just now? The one that shattered your ear drums? That was me. The rhubarb is sprouting!

Oh, how I love stewed rhubarb!

Mention the tart fruit and I’m instantly transported back to my childhood home, back, back, way back to the rear of the yard, against the neighbour’s tar-paper shed, behind the four rows of raspberry canes.

Mom canned the stuff in quart jars. The stewed fruit was “good for what ailed you.”  Also good for cleaning the grunge off the dutch oven. God knows what it does to your innards, but I don’t care. I love the tart pink stuff.

When in season, mom would hand us a little metal bowl filled with white sugar. We’d play “Lost Kids” – our version of Swiss Family Robinson, and forage for food. Up we’d yank the rosy red rhubarb stems. After slicing off the leaf and the rooting ends, we’d sit on the back-porch stairs in contemplative silence, dunking the tart into the sweet and puckering and gnawing away.

Sometimes, you know? It just doesn’t get any better.

In every garden since, I filled a corner with rhubarb plants. When we moved up to Cobalt, the first question I asked my friend who used to live up North was “Can I grow rhubarb up here?”

“Absolutely,” she said.

OK, then! I’m going to get me some!

But where? Since it was late in the season, the nursery stock was sold out. The gal at the local greenhouse suggested that I make friends with someone who had a patch and ask for a clump or two. OK, great idea, but that would mean at least a year before I got to that stage in making pals.

I mean, do you think this would fly?

“Hi. How are you. I’m new here. Oh, look! You have rhubarb! Can I have some?”

Not exactly Miss Manners, right?

No.

I couldn’t wait for that. I wanted rhubarb, NOW!

One June morning, Reiner and I were driving the back roads of Coleman Township near the old Giroux Lake ghost town – a former enclave of homes and businesses that came and went with the silver mines. We found a large clump of “Lemon Lilies” – a fragrant yellow variety of day lily adjacent to a former residence.  We stopped to dig out a tub-full.

“Hang on a minute,” said Reiner. “I want to check something.” He tromped into the woods and crashed and thrashed about. When he emerged, he said, “I found rhubarb!”

Was I gob-smacked? Was I impressed?

I was.

How did he know?

He figured that where there’s a century homestead, there’s probably a century garden. He was right. The rhubarb plant was ancient and well-established, surviving quite well on its own, thank you very much, in spite of the trash that had accumulated around it. The root was as big around as my forearm.

He dropped me off at home to prepare the receiving bed, and he returned to the site with heavy digging artillery.

About an hour later, he returned. We transplanted the root, I silently uttered a prayer to the gods of transplanting and tart springtime foodstuffs, and we watered and watched the site for weeks.

Finally, miraculously, new leaves emerged. Then, giant, towering stalks of beautiful pink. I wanted to pluck each and every one, but Reiner urged me to let the plant be, to let it establish a good solid footing. We didn’t want to compromise its ability to survive the winter, right? (Remember when I said that I was patient? I think I need to change my answer.)

And survive it did! The first dessert I make will be for my hubby, in thanks, so that I might continue my spring time tradition.

***   ***   ***

Inspired by Greg and his ‘My Stuff Writing Challenge”

You follow Greg over at Almost Iowa, don’t you? No? Oh, you simply must!

This is his challenge: Look around you. Find something of yours that is worth writing about and fashion an essay around it.

Tag your story with MY STUFF, publish it and link it back to his page.

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Categories: Blog Blog Blog, Food, Gardening

Tags: , , , ,

47 replies

  1. I only made acquaintance with rhubarb — as a real thing and not just a word from old weird books, a real thing that really exists and can be brought home into one’s kitchen — 4 or 5 years ago. Call it love at first stewing! I enjoyed your childhood memories and story of the transplant immensely.

    Though Rhubarb in the Wild still sounds kinda mystically weird-old-book-y to me…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That takes me back! We had some in the back yard and mom would makes pies. Sigh, wonderful pies. We would be out back with some sugar . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also have a fond connection to the little metal bowls used to poach eggs. I finally donated my set to the Goodwill before moving last year – I never made poached eggs as an adult, but was always prepared to head to the rhubarb patch with my wee bowl of sugar!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I like strawberry rhubarb pie. 🙂 Nice story about your quest for rhubarb!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well YAY for you Maggie, and for rhubarb, although I am not a fan. I also remember it from my childhood-my mom making it is some fashion for my dad, who loved it. For the longest time I just thought it was red celery… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Rhubarb pie is one of the first ‘spring’ dishes I make–oh, so good! And I just saved two recipes for Strawberry-Rhubarb Cake–actually one is a cobbler, but Rhubarb! Wow. Reiner does have a knack, doesn’t he?! Happy for you, Maggie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He has a knack, all right! Very resourceful and one I’d want to align with on a dessert island! 🙂

      Rhubarb freezes so easily, too. Which is good because I don’t have the gear (much less the desire) to can up a batch.

      Like

  6. Great story. I admire the resourcefulness you guys show. I’m not a fan of rhubarb, but I appreciate the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My mother used to make rhubarb pie, and I loved it. I haven’t been able to replicate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Only three things survive in my garden. Rhubarb, beets and wild onions. None of these things appeal to the deer, bunnies or free ranging snapping turtles. That does not mean that we don’t plant rows upon rows of other things…but only those survive.

    By the way, I LOVE rhubarb pie.

    Thanks for answering the My Stuff challenge!

    Like

  9. Oh yum! That is a taste of my childhood too! Rhubarb sauce, rhubarb and strawberry pie, rhubarb jam … sigh 🙂 Up North, the silly rhubarb would be poking its head out from under the snow. Definitely a sign a spring.

    Now I need to go and do my own foraging to find some!! btw – I love the photo!! Good one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I cannot believe you just happened upon it. WOW. I cannot believe. I mean, that had to be Destiny!

    (I wish someone wanted to come dig up half my lily-of-the-valley…)

    Not a fan of the rhubarb, only when baked alongside strawberries, really, but I am so very happy for you! What a wonderful, inspiring story! 🙂
    Glad you had your linens on the line, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes, I follow the Gregster and I did yesterday’s challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rhubarb! It looks like a body snatcher pod for certain. Even the leaves busting through that shell kind of look like brains…are you a body snatched humanoid? No, you couldn’t be, you have shown too much real enjoyment to be one of them. WHEW! I guess we’re safe. Glad you are feeling the spring rush that comes with the first flush of green Maggie!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Excuse me for saying, Maggie, but that photo isn’t of rhubarb. It’s the brain of an alien from outer space emerging from the ground! Quick, call Mulder and Scully!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Rhubarb! I remember that stuff from childhood, too – and I got to do the same thing with it – dip the stalk in sugar to cut some of the tart, then chew, chew, chew….

    My mom used to make a rhubarb custard pie – SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO delish!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve never heard of eating rhubarb raw, Maggie! I do love the richness of the colour and we enjoy it stewed with apples that are more plentiful than the rhubarb. Delightful post, can conjure up pictures of you both enjoying the garden and your special find.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Reblogged this on Almost Iowa and commented:

    Maggie Wilson has not only the coolest named blog in the entire blogsphere but she has rhubarb too.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My mother-in-law made the BEST rhubarb pie. And she always made a little six inch one, just for me. Which I chose not to share, but greedily ate all by myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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