December’s thick blanket of snow was beautiful to behold, but that storm did a real number on our cabbage!
Yes, we should have built a cold frame, we know. All you native Oregonians can gloat at our naïveté, but our first seven winters here in Portland have been mild. Some years passed without a hard frost, and our gardens have shrugged off smaller storms. Our collards and most of the herbs were unperturbed by the big ice storm a few years ago.
Not so this year, as the sad portrait of our westernmost raised bed demonstrates. Only the red cabbages seem to be truly alive. The Napas most definitely bit the big one and although the arugula may come back, it is pitiful to behold. The rest are, well, decaying. The other greens look perfectly squashed, their leaves radiating outward. Nicole’s beloved parsley is no more.
So filled with humility, we set off to the Hillsdale Farmer’s Market to restock. This comeuppance was overdue. The truth is that we were unwittingly turning into “seasonal-only, grow-your-own” snobs. We were drawn to Portland by its 291-day growing season. Eating seasonally in Oregon is different and substantially more fun than eating seasonally in Kansas or New York, where winter ground is unyielding. We had become spoiled by the nearly year-round bounty of the west, and forgot that what comes so easily, can just as easily and quickly be taken away.
As defeated as we felt walking up to the Gathering Together Farm stand, we are grateful someone’s vegetables have weathered the storm.
Next year, we build a cold frame.
Lisa Bell is a freelance producer, writer and editor. She spent the first fifteen years of her working life as a pastry chef, recipe developer, test kitchen director, food stylist and print editor. She has also taught cooking classes, run a small cooking school, and worked as a food scientist. Nicole Rees currently works as a baking scientist. She is also a food writer and cookbook author specializing in baking science. Her most recent book Baking Unplugged, is filled with simple, scratch recipes that require no electric gadgets beyond an oven.