Saturday, March 22, 2008

spring equinox

A big storm hit before dawn this morning. I woke at 4:30 to the Howlers, two troupes, one beside the house in the Fig tree, the other across the river, what a cacophony – they must have been heralding the storm, in the distance out over the ocean I could hear the thunder. After the monkeys came the loudest birdsong and most varied I’ve heard thus far. I was excited as yesterday I bought a field guide to Costa Rican birds and here they all were. Insect noise too, very strong and beautiful mixed with the birdsong. And then the rain came in, soft at first, I could hear it at the other end of the garden and then it hit my roof. It rained heavily for about 5 hours, overflowing the little pond, giving the tadpoles a rare opportunity to explore where they’ll soon be hopping.

We’re on rainwater here, altogether we have 9 tanks of various sizes and moss cover. The storm gave us overflow. It’s so nice to see that overflow – showers all around! I cleaned the gutter that feeds the giant tank yesterday – full of dead flowers and leaves and the odd millipede, it was only cleaned two weeks ago, but we’re in a dry month and the trees are dropping leaves: I moved 14 barrowloads to a new bed last week, this week another 10.

Now it’s early afternoon and I’m bottling some plum jam. I picked the coco plums yesterday at the beach. They are very pretty, round as round can be and a rosy shade of purple, not like the northern hemisphere plums at all. They grow on low scrub bushes with light green shiny leaves on the shade side of coconut palms, hence the name. Their flesh is white and spongy and astringent, it draws the moisture from your mouth, inducing you to eat more in a mistaken attempt to replace lost moisture. When they are really ripe they become sweet and less astringent, it was these I picked. It reminded me of picking blackberries – the same eager search and joy at finding a dense cluster of purple hiding amongst the green. Yet these are more fun to pick – no thorns, no snags, no bloody fingers. They are about the same size as gobstoppers and have one stone, much like a plum pit, the flesh clings to it the same way too. I chopped them and put the whole fruit

in, the nut inside the stone is edible and nicely nutty. The shell is hard, too hard to eat, we’ll just have to deal with spitting it out.

The ginger beer I started yesterday is slower than usual, the storm has kept the temperature in the 70s, now the sun is peeping through and it’s becoming rather humid. It’ll be ready tonight. Such a simple recipe – a cup of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of yeast, juice of one lime and as much ginger as you can handle – all mixed in a 2 liter soda bottle and left somewhere warm for 24 hours or so. Here it sits out on the deck for a full day and then it goes into the fridge to stop the yeast. Really delicious. I put tumeric in sometimes when I want it extra healthy. The ginger, tumeric and limes come from the garden and the sugar is the raw tapa dulce we can get here from minimally processed sugar cane.