Sometimes, I imagine our lives through the neighbors' eyes, through the windows across the street.
I notice a routine: a man up early, the green Chevy pulling away. A woman—now noticably round—out in the briars each morning in her nightgown and bare feet. She brings an old pint container for the berries: first the black, then the red, now the golden raspberries.
She snacks while she picks—then waters the carrots, checks the kale and broccoli for the little green worms that devour holes in the leaves. She disappears inside and then is back on the front stoop. A black lab settles onto the brick beside her, and she spoons something out of a porcelain bowl—granola and yogurt maybe, with a handful of berries.
Later in the day, she might come out and weed. The tomatoes need trimming, and the butternut squash vines are growing almost clear across the street. She checks the orchard—there were five ripe peaches before the birds stole two the other day—and sprays horticultural oil on the new pear leaves. She ties a loose asparagus fern to the others around the stake, pulls a few heads of lettuce.
Then she drives off, too—off to the restaurant in black skirt and shoes—and the yard is quiet for another afternoon.
We haven't been eating anything complicated recently. There's too much good fresh food to bother fussing with recipes and heat. But here's a suggestion for a simple salad with a tried and true dressing recipe that's good on just about any chilled spread of garden-fresh veggies. This recipe serves 2.
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 ears of fresh corn, shucked and kernels cut off the cob
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
a handful of Thai basil
4 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
a handful of cheese—I used cheddar, cut into tiny cubes, but I also think goat cheese, shaved Manchego, or Parmesan ribbons would be good
Whisk together the white vinegar, olive oil, sugar, pepper, and salt in a small measuring cup. Set aside.
In a large shallow bowl, layer the cucumbers with the corn, cherry tomato halves, Thai basil leaves, and carrot rounds. Sprinkle or shave the cheese evenly over top. Pour the dressing on, and let the salad marinate at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving.