Amazing to be eating asparagus at the end of June, but here we are, storing up enough memories of asparagus pleasures to see us through the long ten month period until it's next in season. It's been the essential green at our meals for five weeks now, or is it six?
And because today has been rainy and a little cooler, after a week of mostly sun and heat, and because the oven was hot anyway to cook the chicken, it seeemed a good idea to make another skillet cake. Tashi did most of the work, and we put some lightly cooked sliced apple on it just before it went into the oven. There was added incentive to make a cake this evening because tonight three extra teenagers are coming to sleep over, friends from Grey County, on their way to Montreal. I assume they'll devour what's left of the chicken, potatoes, and rice, as well as the cake, when they get here sometime after ten.
And by the way, the chicken carcass is now simmering with some aromatics to make a broth, the next step on the chicken's journey. And after that?....
In Toronto this last week of June, apart from suddenly (and at last) getting a good dose of hot weather, we also have a municipal strike, which means no garbage pick-up. But despite the heat, things aren't yet feeling too dire on the garbage front. Partly it's because some impromptu sites have been opened where people can leave their garbage and so we aren't living with piles of garbage in the streets, not yet at least.
But another big reason things feel fairly civilized so far is that now this is a city that separates its trash. In other words, the "smelly" part, the food waste stuff, goes in a separate "green bin". It's pretty low volume (the bin is the size of a small in-kitchen bin). The larger volume stuff, glass and cardboard on the one hand and non-recyclable trash on the other, is separate, so it's NOT smelly or rotting.
What a difference. Remember when all garbage was lumped together, so it ALL smelled and was yucky to deal with? Remember the garbage strike in Vancouver, with piles of stenchy garbage everywhere? And I seem to remember a long-ago strike in London, in England, where garbage, unsorted and all stinky, piled up for weeks....
"So far so good," is how it feels here in Toronto.
Of course the strike also makes us all aware, each time we have something to throw out - that small "oops! I wonder how long this will last?" reflexive thought - that everything we discard has to be dealt with somehow, sooner or later. That awareness isn't such a bad thing, is it?
Now that we are heading into a second missed pick-up of food-garbage, our small green bin, just outside the front door, is smelly when I open it. But it's not yet smelly from the outside and it's still only about half full (we don't generate much, except the odd chicken carcass and some odds and ends of leftovers, and potato peelings).
We used to compost (though that doesn't deal with meat and fats) but we live downtown, there are restaurants nearby, and there is always the threat of rats. Some years ago we gave up composting because of rats and I hesitate to try it again, for the same reason. My grandparents, on their farm in northern BC, had a pail of old milk and general food discards, including peelings, etc, and over-aged leftovers, that went to the chickens; other farms have slop pails for the pig. Meat scraps and fat go to the dog in a farm household. But we don't have any of those options.
Which leaves us dependent. We need the City and the workers to negotiate a settlement. Just do it, and sooner rather than later, please.
And meantime, it's a bonus to know that acting on the environmental need to sort our garbage also has this short-term side-benefit: living with a garbage strike is way less stressful and unpleasant than it would be with unsorted garbage. The other side of the coin is the educational bonus of the strike: it's making us all aware of what we are throwing out and of the problems of disposal.
Are you fed up with me always counting my blessings? Sorry. It's one of those tiresome glass-half-full reflexes, a survival skill that is now second nature to me.
And moving from practical issues back to pleasures, where we began: I stayed last night with a good friend who has a place an hour north of here. Just before I left this morning, she cut masses of her peonies, still blooming, but weighted and bowed by rainwater, and handed me a huge bouquet to bring back to the city. The peonies in my garden are all over, and I'd accepted that they were done for another year. Now unexpectedly there's a gorgeous big vase of white and pink peonies on the counter, sweetly scented, a last hurrah of spring. Thank-you Trisha!