|from Sea Quilt by Susan Elliott|
Susan always writes a long Christmas letter to accompany the gift she and Gary send, and on a cold day here, I visualized her "sitting in my new favorite chair — Mom's Danish rocking chair padded with a Navajo blanket from Dad. Facing the kitchen (aka the apothecary, center of daily dances with the vegetable kingdom) — to my left the wood stove is not lit because the cabin is still warm from last night's fire; to my right, on the counter, sit sprouts (garlic and broccoli) greening and steel-cut oats soaking for oat milk..."
Susan and Gary are vegetarians and eat lots of legumes and vegetables, the latter which they grow on the Uncompahgre Plateau where they live. Many times when one of them e-mails me, they're making tomatillo sauce from home-grown tomatillos. In the Christmas letter, Susan quoted from Thoreau: "Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."
We sent this couple pecans from Cane River Pecan Company, which Susan was sampling as the "sky lights up here in pinks and cloudy blues to the west and rising yellows to the east." She says she researched the pecans indigenous to the Mississippi River basin and thinks that they may be "a Centennial variety that was developed in the 1850's by Antoine, a black slave. That variety is believed to have initiated the commercial popularization of the nuts now claimed to be the most popular nut in the U.S. (after the peanut)." Susan also discovered that Indians in Texas considered the pecan tree to be a manifestation of the Great Spirit.
At the end of Susan's Christmas letter, she told us to look out the window for the first birds of the year: Mountain Chick-a-dee, Steller's Jay, and Dark-eyed Junco, which we can't see here in swamp country but can imagine perching on the window sill of her cabin (a residence to which they refer as "The Castle"). A woman who seems to be prepared and enthusiastic for any experience, Susan ended the annual letter with a new year greeting: "We're on our way." And here in south Louisiana, following a frosty week-end, today's 70-degree weather bodes better for "our way."