Sunday, April 28, 2013

Week 17: Veggie Haikus

Buttery yellow squash and crispy cucumbers
   Spring is dragging in, here in North Carolina. Hot... cool...  hot again... cold... hot again... cool again... hot again. The trees are budding, the flowers are blooming, the pollen fog wafts along in big yellow clouds and coats everything. Tiny seedlings are just peeking up from their potting soil flats on the window sill. And this halfhearted gardner is imagining the perfect garden. That is the inspiration for this week's book-of-the-week titled Veggie Haikus.
Imagine the perfect garden!
This little book is a mixed salad of haiku poems about garden vegetables. The poems were written several years ago by a young woman who spent the summer as a garden intern at an organic farm in the mountains of North Carolina. Soon after, I letterpress printed a variable edition of eight texts. Since then, they have been waiting for just the right book in which to set roots.

Title page: letterpress printed on Thai Chiri paper with katazomi paper spine piece
   Veggie Haikus is illustrated with eight watercolor paintings on pages that explode out of the book... ! just like the perfect garden! ...bursting with fruit and vegetables! Each illustrated page is folded with an origami structure called a turkish map fold. There are several tutorials for the turkish map fold on You-tube and other blogs such as Green Chair Press. Check it out at
Peas, first crop of the year for this gardener...
The first poem is about the cucumber...

Heavy jade jewel resting
under desperate grasping fingers
in a sharp outer coat

Usually lettuces, kale, swiss chard and cabbage come early in the spring.. even before the peas pop up! In the South, there might even be some tasty collard leaves to pick all winter long. In the perfect garden there's always something fresh to eat. 

Ode to Kale!
Stiffened silk ruffle
sunset tumbling down the mountain
a hazy bouquet

Cabbage, swiss chard, and kale
Another early arrival is the onion...

On onions....
Fresh zesty scent
Iridescent skin sleeping
under broken clay

Radishes, carrots, onions and a basket ready for picking
Singed lace trim
Pink and purple gold beads
sown to my red skirt

Potatoes are a delight in a garden.. all those little golden jewels hidden under a mound of dirt and a lusty green topknot. But mellons are like jewels scattered all across the garden in plain daylight! They have no shame but flaunt their beauty for all to see. No summer is complete without cutting open a cool ripe watermellon, then setting in to eat a slice... juice running down your chin.
Mellons yellow and green
The Queen of the summer garden.. the King, the Prince, and the Princess is one vegetable... the tomato.
In our family, it RULES.

Tomatoes in their special house

Dressed in slip of grime
can't stand up in your special house
needy, but I love thee
Your big red heart
Hovering above your special bed
'cause you need fresher air
Peppers.... red, yellow, green... hot and sweet!
In our garden, the peppers bring in the Fall... hanging strong and waxy on their little bushes until frost's first bite... and then it's time to plow under the garden and wait for the new Spring.

Brown silk spine cloth and handprinted japanese paper cover
So the little book of Veggie Haikus goes...  a tribute, a celebration, a commendation, a laudation, an appreciation of a homegrown vegetable garden and it's delicious bounty.