思先生的故鄉 / Mr. Si's Hometown

Chris and Hostas
 
Lillies
 
Various Berries in the Woods

大家都知道我是台北女孩, 可是很少人知道思先生故鄉確切的名稱。美國太大, 每一州裡就有太多太多的區域及城市。例如當初我是在麻州念高中, 所有人都以為離Boston(波士頓)很近, 但其實我是在麻州西邊一個叫Northfield的小小城市念書。而且其實要去Boston至少要坐兩個小時的車才到得了。所以現在當我們被問到思先生的故鄉所在地為何時, 迅速回答的方式是紐約州的北部。再精準一點就是離Syracuse(雪城)約25分鐘車程的地方。通常為了不要讓問的人覺得無趣,我們講到這裡就會打住, 而真正了解紐約州地理的人才會進階的問出這個小鎮的名稱, Tully(托里)。

Everyone knows I'm a girl from Taipei, but not many knows the exact name of Mr. Si's hometown. The US is huge, there are numerous counties, cities and towns in every state. For example, when I was in high school in Massachusetts, everyone thought I lived close to Boston, but I was actually in western Massachusetts in a tiny town called Northfield. It would've taken me 2 hours to get to Boston from Northfield. So now when people ask us where Mr. Si is from, our quick and standard answer is usually upstate New York. To get a bit more specific we would say it's about a 25-minute drive away from Syracuse. And to not bore the person asking this question, we would usually stop there, unless they know and are interested, we would then talk about the town of Tully.

mini maple tree
你找得到藏身落葉中在小樹苗旁的青蛙嗎? 它比一塊錢還小!
Can you find that tiny little frog next to the sapling? It's smaller than a penny!
Nano-size Frog
 
Magic Overnight

第一次去Tully的時候是夏天, 看到Tully的感覺非常奇妙, 這個被聖誕樹及楓樹包圍的小鎮, 讓我想到了高中。四處看得到幾乎每一棵楓樹上都裝了一個汲取汁液的龍頭, 而Tully也是生產楓葉糖漿的中心之一, 這正是當初我高中的模樣啊! 而學校自己生產的楓葉糖漿也是有名的伴手禮之一喔。放眼望去在Tully只有無止盡的綠野丘陵及樹林, 和紐約市完全走極端的路線, 也讓我每一次和思先生一起回去看婆婆就有感覺像是去探險, 看看有什麼新的植物, 過過用舊式鐵壁爐燒木頭取暖的生活。和思先生認識時他也和我分享了許多從小穿梭於樹林間的樂趣及試驗, 例如自己去裝一個楓葉糖漿的龍頭, 一大桶的汁液只煮出一小湯匙的糖漿... 例如自己看著小河的走向用碎石在河中造景... 例如在山野之間發現野菇箘類... 例如每年看到熊蔥佈滿原野時就知道春天來了... 例如多到讓他受不了的青蛙們... 。

It was summer the first time I visited Tully, and I had a familiar feeling about this place. The town is surrounded with large numbers of maple trees and christmas trees(in training) and this immediately made me think of my high school. If you take a look around Tully, almost all of the maple trees are being tapped for their sap and Tully is one of the few places in the area that produced maple syrup. This was just like high school! Back then, the school-produced maple syrup were actually quite popular as souvenir. In Tully, there are endless fields, mountains, hills and woods, it's the polar opposite of New York City, and it makes me feel like I'm going on an adventure each time we go visit. I would try to find and identify new plants and enjoy the life of using wood burning cast iron stoves. When I first met Mr. Si, he told me a lot of the fun childhood memories, such as tapping a maple tree himself and finding out that 1 bucket of sap cooks down to 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, such as landscaping with rocks in the valley streams, such as identifying various mushrooms in the woods, such as using the wild spurts of ramps as a mark to the start of Spring, such as the large number of frogs and how much they irritate him.

Hosta Blossoms
 
Lost and Found

在廣大的院子裡婆婆種滿了各種玉簪, 大大小小不同種類不同顏色。這些不同品種玉簪是婆婆生活很大的重心之一, 我每次回去也都會看到不斷擴大的玉簪園。有時拿起剪子替婆婆修修這些花草雖然需要體力可是總是很開心。玉簪園裡面有一個小小的區域曾是思先生小時候的沙坑。一直到現在婆婆還常常會挖出被思先生埋進沙坑深處的玩具們。

In the huge yard, my mother-in-law landscape with hostas, all sizes, all types and all colors. Planting the growing this large variety of hostas is a huge focus of her life and I would always see the garden expanding each time we go up to visit. Sometimes I would help out with trimming the garden, it takes time and effort but I would always enjoy it. A part of the hosta garden used to be Mr. Si's sandbox when he was little, even now, my mother-in-law would dig up some old toys that Mr. Si buried in the sand many many years ago.

PLAY! NOW!
 
Fireworks

在這個非常純樸的小鎮上有一起看著思先生長大的鄰居和老師, 有和善愛玩愛交朋友的動物們, 有國慶日湖邊美麗的煙火。Tully不是人間仙境也沒有五星級度假村讓你可以在芬多精的薰香下享受spa。Tully有的是凡事自己學自己動手的精神, 單純的環境, 還有適合發揮想像力的場所。這些都影射在思先生的人格上。而我這個從小被城市慣壞的台北女孩, 從小就非常懂得怎麼買東西卻很少去想像怎麼自己做東西。這些我長大成人慢慢訓練出來的廚藝, 設計功力, 對生活上細節的想法也都是因為離家遠離爸媽遠需要自立自強而養成的。有一天我們會有兩個家, 一個在市中心, 我們的工作基地, 一個在郊外讓我們可以過回純樸的生活。而我最不用擔心的是怎麼照顧一個獨立的房子, 因為思先生會替我殺蟲, 修理東西, 讓手拙的我非常安心。

This is a simple town, there are loving neighbors and teachers that were there during Mr. Si's childhood, there are friendly and playful animals, there are beautiful fireworks by the lake on 4th of July. Tully is not heaven on earth and it's not one of the places with an outdoor spa in a five-star resort. But there is the learn and do spirit, there is the pure environment, and there is the encouragement for imagination. All of these qualities are pretty much implanted in Mr. Si. And on the other hand, I'm absolutely a spoiled city girl. I have been extensively trained in consumption instead of creation ever since I was a little kid. All of my cooking, crafting, designing and living skills were brought out by the fact that I lived so far away from home and from my parents. I had to be independent and just create my own stable environment. Someday, Mr. Si and I will have two places, one in the city, where we work; one in the country, where we live a simpler more outdoorsy life. And when that happens, what I need not worry about is how to take care of a house and not an apartment because there is Mr. Si to help me with the fixings, the ridding of bugs and the easing my anxiety of not knowing how to do any of this.

Wild Blacberry and Sweet Cicely
Wild Blacberry Tart

今年八月回去看婆婆的時候正好是野生桑葚及接骨木果收成的季節, 我拼著被蚊子叮滿身包的天氣硬是採了一大桶的野果回家。也和婆婆一起找出了在後院長滿一整片的野生香草沒藥樹的中文名字及用途。沒藥樹是思先生從小就很喜歡的野生香草, 在夏天會結出有茴香味道的瓜子, 他小時候就愛採來啃。而沒藥樹除了瓜子可以食用, 嫩葉甚至根莖也都可以食用, 而且有整腸的功效。其實這一年來我一直不斷的發現很多原本被認為是雜草的植物其實都是可以食用的, 就像這幾年才開始被發揚光大的熊蔥, 還有在美國Whole Foods長年都有在賣的蒲公英葉(台語俗稱兔阿草), 還有在美國南部多到不行的葛根(日本用來製作葛粉的植物)其實都是非常好且有營養的食材。讓我更是認為大自然賜與我們的東西我們一定要張大眼睛放開心胸去了解及珍惜。

When we visited this past August, it was the harvest season for wild blackberries and elderberries. I braved the mosquito bites and picked a bucket full of wild berries to bring home. We also identified the usage of Sweet Cicely, the wild herb that has been growing crazy in the backyard for years. Sweet Cicely was one of Mr. Si's favorite plants when he was a child, in the summer, the plants would produce pods that contained licorice-tasting seeds, they were often snacks for him. What we found out this time is that the entire plant of Sweet Cicely is edible, from the seeds to the leaves to the roots and it's especially beneficial to the digestive system. This past year I've been finding more and more "weeds" that are edible and absolutely nutritious for us, such as ramps that only got popular these past few years, such as dandelion leaves (bunny leaves in Taiwan) that I see at Whole Foods all the time, such as Kuzu the wild plant that is everywhere in the south (Kuzu roots made into a powder is the common ingredients in Japanese dessert). The more I know the more I think we should open our eyes and our minds to learn what the nature brings us.

今年夏天在Tully的收穫有一大束的野花, 一大桶的野果, 沒藥樹的嫩葉及瓜子, 熊蔥根(有時拿來代替洋蔥), 還有15條才美金$4.50的甜玉米。回家第二天就做了一個簡單的桑葚酥皮塔, 兩天後做了一瓶桑葚及接骨木果果醬, 玉米蒸來吃, 煮成湯, 煎成餅都非常香甜。每次去Tully我總是會帶一些紐約才賣得到的點心及小物給婆婆, 可是卻也總是會帶回很多甚至塞不進車子裡卻讓我開心不已的農作物。Tully 不只是思先生的故鄉也是我覓食的遊樂場。

My nature's bounty this time from Tully includes a huge bouquet of wild flowers, a bucket of wild berries, Sweet Cecily leaves and seeds, ramp bulbs(I sometimes use these in place of onions), and 15 ears of sweet corn for $4.50. I made a sweet blackberry tart the second day we got home and a wild berry preserve the following weekend. The corn was steamed, made into soup, put into pancakes, and they are divine. I would always bring some NYC-only desserts and goodies for my mother-in-law each time we go visit. And the funny thing is that I would always end up bringing back more makes-me-giddy harvest than I could fit in the car. Tully is not only Mr. Si's hometown but definitely my foraging playground.