I took a long walk from the convention center in Philadelphia to my friend Andrew's place near Fishtown. My impression of Philly was a lot of vacant lots, depressed, hot, and big weird weeds that I could not identify. Philly is huge so this walk wasn't enough to judge the whole place, but this is what we do...see a little and generalize. Philly looks to me like Detroit + LA, 3 cities I don't know well.
Bartram's garden was a little run down too, even though the web claimed it was a hidden gem of philly. It was in a dumpy neighborhood. I ate Cornus mas for the first time. Sour, except for the ones over-ripening and attracting ants on the ground. Those were hot -- temperature -- and sweetish. I never see that plant in Boston, although I've heard of it, probably at the arboretum (philly's arboretum I passed on. They charge $15 to get in).
I didn't realize until I had arrived at bartram's garden that this was the very same bartram of botanical illustrations that I had looked into before when I was considering using public domain old botanical images for my book, which never happened because it was really hard to find old drawings of the plants I wanted to include, which was frustrating because I figure people must have have drawn them all many times over the years.
The other great find for me at bartram's garden was patience dock, according to Sam Thayer the best of all the docks. I found it in the weed/compost pile and it was fantastic. This plus a massive amount of purslane that they let me take made for a nice dinner at Andrew's parent's house.
After the few days in philly, I returned to cambridge for a few hours, enough time to finish off Crime and Punishment (one sentence summary: 23-year old melancholic intellectual stews over the idea of offing some old pawn-broker lady, finally does it, then stews over confessing, finally confesses, then goes to Siberia for 8 years of hard labor) and forage some blackberries for my 4 day trip to Colorado.
Here in colorado, the berries of choice for foraging right now are raspberries and mountain gooseberries. While the rest of the fellas went after trout yesterday, I went after lamb's quarters and nasturiums etc. for a salad. I dug a burdock root, mainly to try to stop everyone from asking "can you really get enough from just greens?" but it is mid-summer and the thing was hard as a stick, so I tossed it. There is lots of salsify around here, but it's not the season for those roots either, so my trusty lamb's quarters has kept me going. There is also tons of cow parsnip so even though it is not spring, I grabbed some of that for a soup. A long walk last night before our drinking fest led me up a mountain rd, several deer sightings (including a baby that hopped away just like Bambi...the Disney animators nailed that one) and a coyote (or some other hungry skinny ragged looking animal) sighting.
Since finishing off Crime and Punishment, I haven't selected another read yet, so I've been pounding through this month's Harper's. Here's a funny snippet from an article about this guy who made a really terrible movie a few years back, called The Room, which has become a minor cult hit. The director and writer and star, Tommy Wiseau, states that his goal, which he is fairly certain he will reach, is for 90% of Americans to see the movie. The reporter points out that not every American has even seen Snow White. At that point...
T. Wiseau: I'm not concerned with other movies. I'm concerned only about The Room at this time. If that's your analogy, that's fine with me. But yes, absolutely, we will eventually beat Snow White.
The reporter: You realize how ridiculous that sounds.
Wiseau: No, it's not at all.
That section made me laugh out loud. It was preceeded by a quote from critic Robert Hughes which I also enjoyed: "The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize." I don't agree with that. In fact, I bet a lot of lesser artists (i.e. most of us) who experience doubt would turn to such a quote as a pat on the back (oh, you have doubts about your work, this means you have great artistry inside), and I bet that's why the quote is well-known.
Addendum: on the way to the airport, actually heard the old John Denver song Rocky Mountain High, whcih goes on for a while, but is still great. One never hears that song on the east coast nowadays.