I miss you desperately. I miss you in a way you can only miss something that you have come to take for granted. I miss my stunningly beautiful 'Bright Lights' Swiss Chard.
Some time ago, I don't remember how long now, I started to grow this beautiful, leafy girl. I'd plant this Grape Nut look-alike seed in the spring. She would germinate slowly, but with time, she would grow and mature, delicate and fragile at first, then growing brasher and more brilliant as she grew to maturity. Flamboyant in her fiery attire, she would deck herself out in the most florescent of hues. Fuchsia, tangerine, day-glow yellow. She would flaunt her colors with a confidence and drama that was literally breath-taking, operatic in its performance.
Each year I think I'll plant something new in this most precious piece of potager real estate, a yet untried kale or chard or green. But each year this drama queen wins out, because nothing real or imagined can hold a candle to the sheer magnificence of this grand dame of the potager.
I could lie and tell you that I appreciated her earthy goodness, her rich chardy essence of flavor. But that would be a lie. Yes, I love her taste and appearance when small, usually mixed in with my lettuce greens. But when large, she gets tough and a little bitter, I think. Resentful of being plucked from her garden stage, unable to glow in the sun and show off her stems.
Sometimes, though not often, she will have companions and an entourage.
But she ALWAYS steals the show, so I usually let her have the stage to herself.
This year though, dramatically of course, even this tough lady could be brought low. The hail, early in the season, did her in. Mother Nature smite her and humbled me. Tragically, she never recovered.
And it is in this season, fall, that I miss her the most. I miss stealing one of her leaves for a bouquet, or cutting an entire stalk and letting it sing in my cut crystal ice bucket. But mostly, I miss how she would burn and shine and dance in the soft light of autumn. In short, I miss her bright lights.
Oh, Queen of the potager, 'Bright Lights', I will never take you for granted again.