Think of those two “c”s with little hooks over top. (I hope that’s the right way to describe that particular diacritic…) And that’s the name of the wonderful Czech garlic soup. I’ve been thinking about it this afternoon as I plant next year’s garlic. It’s a soup I had almost daily when we spent a month in the Czech Republic last winter. Martina in Brno said, when I asked her how it was made, that it’s a soup you can make when you have almost nothing in the house. Water, or stock. Onions, if you like. Garlic. Fried bread. Potato cut into little cubes. Maybe some cheese or ham. Some caraway seed. I had many types. I think my favourite might have been the two bowls I had at the lovely Brasserie Avion in Roznov. I’d intended to have soup, then something else from the inventive menu. But that first bowl was so satisfying that I had another. The fried bread came on the side, crisp and hot, and you put in as much as you liked, offering some to the others at the table.
Yesterday I woke with such a vivid scene in my mind that I sat at my desk and wrote the first thousand words of a novella I’m calling Patrin. Part of it takes place in the Czech Republic and part of it in Canada, two brackets of my grandmother’s life. It’s not about her, exactly, but something of her life will echo in its pages. This morning I wrote a little more and am filled with that excitement that the beginning of a book produces. I’m trying not to think of the other two projects I have in the works but I do believe that they won’t go away and might even be better for waiting.
Today I planted four varieties of garlic — Chesnok Red, Leningrad, Georgian Fire, and Northern Quebec, all purchased from a late summer Farmer’s Market in Sechelt. Last year I grew Russian Red, bought in Grand Forks, and a porcelain variety from Gabriola Island, bought at Coombs on our way home from the Pacific Rim. They did well, producing 80 good-sized heads, enough for John and I to use this winter. Here’s a bowl of them, against the Japanese maple:
It’s definitely fall here on the west coast. Last week we picked a big bag of chanterelles and made some of them into soup for the freezer. This morning I noticed that there’s fresh snow on Mount Hallowell. Yesterday there were chum salmon in Angus Creek, undulating in the tea-coloured water, a sight that always moves me to tears. And several days this past week, we saw skeins of geese flying very high on their way south, their scribble telling of northern waters, the prospect of long dark nights, our hemisphere turning to winter.
Time to make Ceznecka with the summer’s bounty, a few red potatoes tumbled from their soil, and the scent of garlic to remind me of my grandmother’s country.