25 July 2008

The Intrigue of Artichokes in the Harvest Basket

With records temperatures hovering at over 100 F (38 C), there isn't much I can do in the garden. The San Francisco Bay Area is under a health advisory because of the heat that is upon us. Even if I could stand working in the heat, it would be extremely unhealthy to do so right now.

I ventured out this afternoon despite the oppressive heat, to top off the pond with water so that all the critters that use it as a water source have a plentiful supply of cool water to drink. Since I had to wait for the water to finish, I decided to fill the harvest basket with this year's harvest of artichokes.

I don't know why I think artichokes are so visually intriguing. I wrote about them last summer in my post "The Beauty of Artichokes". With this year's harvest in my basket, I had to take the time to photograph them again and try to capture all the things that make them such a fascinating form to my artistic mind.

In the past, I have photographed the artichokes while still growing on their thick silvery blue-green stalks. I haven't ever harvested the artichokes all at once. Instead, I usually ask Hubby if he feels like having artichokes for dinner (he's the only one that likes them) and then I go out and harvest the biggest and nicest one or two. Usually, the artichokes are staggered in size because the start at different times and don't grow all at the same pace. But this year, they are all coming to their peak at the same time, coincidentally, right before we are going to see friends and family tomorrow that might also appreciate some artichokes.

That's why I had a full harvest basket of artichokes to photograph. And I'm so glad I did because I'm finding their forms even more intriguing en masse. I hope you all will agree. I think the way the light highlights and shadows the petals and layers of each artichoke is captivating. As I mentioned in my previous post about artichokes, who was the first person to discover that these odd looking blossoms were edible. That person must have been extremely hungry! To me, the artichoke looks more like a succulent cactus than a vegetable. But for artichoke lovers like my Hubby, they are a delicacy not to be missed.

Now the harvest is soaking in covered bowls of cold water in the kitchen sink. Since I'm an organic gardener, there are quite a few critters that hide in all those nooks and crannies of the intriguing artichokes--mostly earwigs and ants. After a good soak out of sight of Hubby (who gets a bit squeamish), this harvest will be ready to be steamed or given away to friends and family tomorrow. In the meantime, I can enjoy them in the way I love best--photographing them.

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