Last August, I assisted in this canning class down at the Charlottesville Cooking School. I’ve been canning for years and have taught a few friends, and always have people ask me where they can learn to can. I had suggested to my friend who owns the school that she should consider offering a canning class. To me, if you like knowing where your food comes from enough to grow your own food, you should know how to preserve it, right? So, she found this completely amazing woman to teach it and I got to help. I really did mean to keep in touch with Leni, but let’s face it, keeping in touch with anyone not on my everyday path of school and work can sometimes be a stretch. Honestly, even people ON that everyday path I have a hard time keeping up with. *sigh*. When I went to the 2 year anniversary party of the school last month, I ran into Leni again and she gave me her card and told me to get in touch with her. I finally did and spent the evening out at her house with a very lovely group of women discussing gardening and food and just life. I just feel so inspired now to work in the garden, to get serious about building more vegetable beds, about increasing the diversity of what I grow among a few other new projects. (Somehow convincing Pat to build me an outdoor oven after he paints the house and builds me a chicken coop.)
During the warmer months, I block the second Wednesdays of each month off on my calendar, for those nights my dear friend Leni hosts a gathering on her front porch, simply known as “Second Wednesdays”. There are always interesting people to meet and good conversations to be had, mostly revolving around gardens and food, two of my favorite subjects.
Leni is one of those people that I firmly believe the universe dropped into my life for a reason. She’s an amazing woman. Her website is
currently down right now, but I can share this wonderful article published in Virginia Living two years ago about her. I’m proud to not just call her friend, but a kindred spirit. Through my friendship with Leni, I have made connections that have literally, transformed my life, starting with the discovery of lemon basil and how it sends my green bean basil pickles to a whole new level.
Yesterday was the second Wednesday in June. It was one of those perfectly beautiful sunny June days, not too hot, breeze just right. I enjoy the drive out to Leni and her husband Kip’s almost as much as I enjoy my visits. Beautiful views of farmland and rolling hills nestled up against the Blue Ridge give way to windy, narrow country roads as you make your way there.
While wandering through Leni’s garden, I had a serious case of Romaine envy.
How gorgeous is that? I have never had romaine look that good, not for lack of trying.
She also had a new batch of chicks. I only stopped to ooh and aah over them briefly, as our chicks are expected to arrive sometime after Sunday and I am saving all my baby chick love for them.
The piggies however, were another story.
How cute are they? Edie suggested naming them Wilbur & Babe, but Leni had already thought of Prune and Pork Chop. Seriously adorable.
When I asked Edie what she thought about us getting a pig though, she shut me down fast with a firm “No”. This as she was nibbling on some of Leni’s freshly baked bread spread with some of my Bacon Jam. Seems she’s content to leave it to our friends to raise pigs while we visit them and enjoy them in other forms later on.
Also quite lovely to take in were the poppies. One of these days I’ll get around to growing some of my own. Until then, I’ll make myself content to admire those grown by my friends.
There is something in the combination of landscape, conversation and company that always leads me feeling realigned in a way that I don’t always know that I need after an evening at Leni and Kip’s. Last night was no exception. As we made our way back into town, we couldn’t help but notice the sky to the west beyond the Blue Ridge still had a glow about it, which I like to think was the universe smiling in agreement as well.
Since last spring, I have had the distinct pleasure in having that view right there, looking out from Leni’s front porch, while I have enjoyed the most lovely, lively and inspirational conversations every Second Wednesday of the month.
I had met Leni once, while assisting her first canning class at the cooking school, but otherwise, showed up at my first Wednesday knowing not a soul, nor what to expect. Over the months, I have met a number of lovely people, who all share a love of food, real food and alot of respect for knowing how to do things by hand, yourself. In short, I have found a world of kindred spirits. I met Rowena, who’s magazine I have picked up for years, completely inspired by her monthly meal planner. I have gotten to know Leni, my hostess.
The first time I met her, it was apparent she had this amazing knowledge of cooking and gardening that I really, really wanted to be able to tap into, but she is also charismatic as hell. I was, and still am, completely in awe that she invites me to hang out. I’m really not sure what I can offer. I like me, and I think I’m a good time, but I’m always slightly touched when other people think that about me too. Call me slightly humble.
Every second Wednesday, we have sat on the porch and discussed cooking, canning, raising children and livestock, gardening, we have toured the gardens, we have tasted each other’s treats from the garden and oven. It has been something I have looked forward to every month. Every month, I have driven home, feeling completely inspired, like anything I want to do is possible. I just need to figure out WHAT. But I also sense that will come in time. The universe has put this in my path, it will put whatever it is I’m supposed to do next in my path too. It has a habit of bonking me over the head with things.
Last night was the last Second Wednesdays of the season. They’ll resume again in May and I don’t think I can wait. Rowena mentioned she might be agreeable to some sort of winter plan….in the meantime, I will miss my Second Wednesdays. And I am already, even more than usual, anxiously awaiting the arrival of next spring already.
I didn’t take my camera along, why, I’m not exactly sure, I do tend to carry that thing everywhere. So, no pictures tonight, but, I did come home with a handful of elephant garlic seeds to put in the dirt somewhere, to go with my inspiration and that counts for something. Next time I’ll take the camera, definitely.