The drive from Milpitas to Loomis takes only a little over two hours, depending on traffic conditions, so we took a leisurely approach. Kathleen first had to negotiate the traffic between Watsonville and Milpitas to pick me up at my brother’s house. Since she had to drive for well over an hour before our road trip even began, we decided that a respite at a tea room along the way was in order. We chose the charming town of Niles, a short distance north of Milpitas, just off Mission Boulevard. We passed the beautifully restored 1797 Mission San Jose, the fourteenth Franciscan mission built in California. Still active, the lovely old Spanish church serves as a chapel of the newer St. Joseph Church next door. Today, both the Town of Niles and the Mission neighborhood are subsumed into the busy modern city of Fremont.
The yellow full moon
Gleams through filmy clouds onto
Red summer roses.
I haven’t been silent, really.
I have spoken every day to those who will hear and see.
When my feathery blossoms waft on the wind in March,
I herald the spring in the loudest way,
And in autumn, my acorns crash and tumble.
“Winter is coming,” they call, as they ricochet
Off pebbles and rustle through fallen leaves.
Even those who have come to live with me
Never seem to cease their speaking.
No one could call a jay quiet,
And who hasn’t been awakened by a woodpecker?
I love the chatter that never ends
As the squirrels scamper up and down my branches;
And yes, my bark can feel their funny little feet.
And yes, I do know where all their winter stores are hidden.
There are things an oak shouts out to all the world;
Other things, she can be trusted to keep secret.
I will not tell where the owl hides on the nights of no moon--
Which one of my branches harbors her.
When she calls out in her own silvery voice,
Only then will you know.
Have I seen plenty?
Of course I have.
I remember the people with quiet feet;
They would come to gather my acorns,
And always they honored me
With song and dance.
They would make their camps beneath my wide branches,
And I felt their spirits one with mine
When the great rains came
To clean my leaves, to fill their waiting baskets,
And finally, to feed my deepest roots, down, down, in the dark sweet earth.
My roots can tell so many things--
About the deep groanings
When the stones themselves shift and slip
And the quakings transform the world of light,
Moving boulders and even my brother trees,
Changing some things from the life-state
To the place of no-life.
Do I know when the quakings will occur?
If I said, “Yes,” there would soon be many
(And not the ones who honor my spirit
As the quiet feet people once did.)
Yes, many humans would come to gall me--
Worse than wasps this kind has become--
Stomping on everything with their loud feet,
They have no patience when there is something they want.
How many of my brothers have they killed
To make shelters for themselves--
Shelters too large for a whole tribe of the quiet ones.
How can I trust a people who lust and kill
And take no time to hear the wind?
Will I tell them
When my deepest roots feel the stirrings,
And even the tiny ants, my ancient friends,
Scurry and whisper of the change to come?
Like the owl, the earth is my old and secret friend;
I will tell nothing she wishes untold.
Summer Tomato and Sourdough Soup
Adapted from The Jerusalem Cookbook
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
This luscious soup, loaded with ripe summer tomatoes, onions and plenty of garlic, is perfect as a starter for a home-cooked Middle Eastern supper or as the star of a humble lunch. After our return to Hawaii, I served this wonderful soup with grilled cheese and sliced tomato sandwiches on sourdough for an everyday lunch that Wayne and I will not soon forget. What makes this soup so special is the inclusion of toasted cumin seeds and the fact that no traditional thickeners such as corn starch, flour or cream are used to enhance the texture. Instead, bits of fresh, soft sourdough bread are added when the soup is almost cooked, and the mixture is roughly pureed with an immersion blender, creating a thick, slightly chunky and very satisfying presentation. The original recipe calls for chopped cilantro as a topping, but I used Italian flat-leafed parsley, as not everyone in my family is fond of cilantro.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 1 large or two medium-sized yellow or white onions, finely chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh cumin seeds (or 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3 cups of vegetable stock or chicken broth
- 4 large ripe tomatoes (or 6 medium-sized,) chopped
- 1 can (14 ounces) chopped Italian style tomatoes in juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons flat-leafed parsley (or cilantro,) chopped, plus more for garnish
- 3 slices of fresh, soft sourdough bread, crusts removed (or most of the soft center of a round loaf of sourdough bread)
Special equipment: large soup pot or Dutch oven with lid, kitchen knife, large spoon, immersion blender, ladle
Makes: six to eight servings, depending on serving size
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the chopped onions and saute for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the cumin and garlic and stir fry for about 2 more minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.
- Pour the stock or chicken broth into the pot. Add both the fresh and canned tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir the mixture and bring it to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt, pepper or cumin if you wish.
- Add the bread, torn into small chunks, and the parsley or cilantro, about half way through the cooking process. Using an immersion blender, roughly puree the soup, leaving the mixture a little coarse and chunky. To serve, ladle into bowls or cups, drizzle a little olive oil over the top, and sprinkle with additional chopped parsley or cilantro.
- This soup can be made a day early without the bread, and refrigerated. To serve later, reheat the soup, add the bread, cook briefly, and puree.