Seed Puffs

Green Salad Bowl lettuce

This year I grew a kind of lettuce I’ve never grown before. Green Salad Bowl. I got the seeds from Territorial Seed Company. For growing in our tubs a mile inland from the coast in Mendocino, Green Salad Bowl lettuce is a wonderful lettuce for both taste and prolificacy.

We harvest our lettuce by cutting the leaves when they get big enough for salad greens rather than waiting to harvest whole heads. In this way, the plants continue to produce new leaves for several weeks, and a small patch of lettuce plants will produce dozens of salads, the leaves constantly tender.

lettuce flowering

One of my pleasures is letting varieties of vegetables we like go to seed so I can harvest those seeds and sow them next season. If the vegetable is not a hybrid, the seeds will breed true and we’ll get the same vegetables unless during the growing season the plants happened to cross with another related variety growing nearby. Then we might get nothing or something quite different than the original.

This season I let one patch of the Green Salad Bowl lettuce go to seed. I’m now in the process of harvesting seeds from those plants. We had two unusually early rains in September, which we’re glad about, except the rains came right as the lettuce flowers were in the latter stages of making seeds.

Thus most of the lettuce flower blooms succumbed to mildew before they could produce fully developed seeds.

Fortunately, every day in early October I’ve been finding white puffs amidst the mildewed growth that are the end stages of flowers successfully gone to seed.

I pick these puffs and carefully extract the seeds.

Will they germinate next spring?

We shall see.


short story


a story from Buddha In A Teacup

What was her name? She modeled for him twice. The four paintings he made of her sold before the paint was dry. Something about her angularity – a hunger in her bones. Or was it the sorrow in her eyes – the first glimmering of old age?

A gigantic face looms before him, startling him. “Hello Boo Boo,” says a voice coming from enormous lips on their way to press a kiss against his cheek. “You poopy? Need a change?”

Huge hands close around his middle, lifting him from the cushioned chair. He moans softly, a sound his mother hears as the beginning of language.

 I’m Walter Casey he tries to say. The artist.

But only the most primitive sounds escape him, his brand new larynx yet untrained.

Helpless on the changing table, his mother frees him from his itchy pajamas and lifts away his soiled diapers. He sighs with relief to have his bum free in the open air. She wipes him clean, cooing as she pulls the string on the musical bear – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star playing for the thousandth time.

Mendelssohn he tries to say. Mozart. Anything but this ice cream truck twaddle.

She sits with him in dappled shade, chuckling at how ravenously he feeds on her.

Maria. That was her name. She wanted to make love with me. All I had to do was ask. But I was too arrogant. No. Afraid.

His mother pulls him off her nipple. He begins to shriek in despair.

“Hold on, Boo Boo. Switching breasts, that’s all.”

He falls asleep and drifts through layers of time to

a snarling dog lunging at him

his father saying You Are No Son Of Mine

forms appearing on his canvas as if by magic

mother clutching his hand as death takes her

his lover kissing his throat


The man who comes to visit every day is not the baby’s father. The baby’s father is bearded and stays in the house throughout the night. This other man has no beard. He only stays for an hour or so, speaking out loud to the baby, but conversing silently with Walter Casey.

How are you feeling? asks the man.

I forget more than I remember now.

Yes says the man. Soon you will forget almost everything that came before this life.

But I don’t want to forget.

What do you wish to remember?


Choose one thing.

The baby laughs. The man laughs, too.


The creek tumbles down through the wooded gorge – a sensual chill in the air. Yellow leaves drift through slanting rays of sunlight and settle on the forest floor. Walter stands at the water’s edge, the tip of his fishing rod pointing toward the sun, his line disappearing into a deep pool. Tomorrow is his seventeenth birthday.         

His mother appears on the ridge above him. She is small in the distance, lovely and strong. She waves to let him know it is time to come home for supper.

Walter waves back to her and reels in his line. Now he looks up at the falling leaves, at the branches of the aspens, at the billowy white clouds in the gray blue sky, and he begins to weep.

“Don’t cry, Boo Boo,” says his father, lifting him from his crib. “Here we are. Don’t be afraid.”

I am not afraid. I was remembering the happiest moment of my other life.

“Don’t cry, Boo Boo,” says the gentle bearded man. “Mama will feed you. Everything is okay.”


What Comes Around