Here’s the thing about summer in Chicago: I just want to do everything outside. No matter how hot it is. If you can even imagine waiting on a train platform for 20 minutes when it’s 20 degrees, you can understand wanting to spend every single second of a Chicago summer outside. I like to play in the dirt. I like to plant things and garden and I really like to hang out in my yard. Sometimes other people do, too. One of my friends visited recently and when she got back to the East Coast she messaged me to say, “By the way, I really miss your yard. I tried sitting in mine the other day with a glass of wine and it wasn't the same. It was just meh. So I drank in my kitchen instead.” I love her.
Another friend has tried to convince me to turn my postage stamp of a lawn into an “edible yard.” I said, “A what? I don’t eat grass. Drink your juice, Shelby.” Her name isn't even "Shelby." Which is not actually to say that my garden is not at all edible. That is also not meant to sound naughty, but it does. I’m going to tell you about my herbs.
First, rosemary. All tall and welcoming, reminding you of her presence when you brush up against her, all “Hi, I’m Rosemary, wouldn’t you like to put me on some chicken? Maybe a nice pork tenderloin? Perhaps some potatoes.....?” And that proud roseMary keeps on growin’ well into October. Super hardy and totally delicious, rosemary is the sluttiest of all herbs. It will go with almost anything.
Next, basil. You can be a little fussy, basil, especially when it’s hot. You get all wilty, like a Southern woman with the vapors. A nice cold drink of something and within minutes you’re back on your feet. Just like a Southern woman with the vapors. I will never forget when I went to a concert in the park and you were in a limoncello lemonade that rivalled the broadway songs on stage for my attention. And that is HARD to do. You were cleverly disguised as an ordinary bottle of lemonade but I knew better. And soon enough, so did everyone else.
Now, dill. Dill, dill, dill. Why, dill? Why. Why do you half-heartedly grow? Why do you mock me with your spindly stalks that could barely flavor a teaspoon of cream cheese for my lox and bagel and then turn brown minutes later? Why aren’t you trying? You break my heart, dill. You’re a weed, for god’s sake. Act like one. Act like....
Mint. Talk about a weed. It does make its presence known. Brush your hand over it, and mint lets you know it’s there. Here’s what I love: after a rainstorm or a watering, mint-flavored air creeps in through the windows and swirls all around you. “Make a mojito!!” mint cries. “Toss me in some fruit!” mint begs. Mint just wants to be loved. That’s why it grows everywhere...so that you don’t forget it. Ever. We’ll talk about the psychological neediness and neuroses of this weed another day. Right now I’m going to introduce it to my friends Vodka and Lemonade. That's what I call "adult fun."