February 2nd, 2009

Salad, Sequins, Seasons, and Sex

Vegetables inspire me. No really, they do. Just hearing the word makes me think of healthful food, food as it was meant to be, created by nature and offered straight to us. A veritable rainbow of the vibrant hues of nature, shiny and glossy or gorgeously soil-caked just inches from the garden, vegetables epitomize to me food from the earth, nature’s ecosystem, feeding us directly from its exquisite bounty.

Which is why I feel so honored to present the salad course in our magnificent progressive blog feast. It is not solely comprised of vegetables, but they make up a substantial part of it, of course (or at least the base!). So welcome, welcome, welcome to The Green Light District and the salad course of the “Sensual and Provocative Progressive Dinner ala Blog”!

First, this course will be black-tie optional. I love to dress up, and when I do, I like to go all the way! And I like to go all the way as far as my outfit too. So I will be wearing my hot pink sequined cocktail dress (and ogling Mr. Emerald in his tuxedo). If you don’t feel like dressing up, that’s no problem of course — I did mean “optional” advisedly. :)

As I begin to present the course for today, our musical interlude will be “Any Colour You Like” by Pink Floyd, as performed here on the 1994 Pulse tour:

So historically there are two different basic salads I have liked to make (with a number of variations of each). As I was considering what to prepare for this course, it struck me that one seemed distinctly more “wintery” and one much more “summery.”

I had been thinking I wanted to prepare the summer one for this occasion, but it ended up being the winter one that seemed to want to come forth and be offered right now. And that makes sense — it is, after all, winter. It may have been an invitation for me to remember to give winter its due reverence. (Maybe if we make this a biannual tradition I’ll get to present the summer salad during its season! ;)) So today we will be partaking in a “winter” salad.

Seasonally speaking, however, at the location I have chosen, we get to visually appreciate both.

Here we are in a large, magnificent indoor botanical garden, complete with occasional butterflies flitting around, immaculate glass walls separating us atmospherically from the outside but not visually. Immediately surrounding us are bright bursts of summer’s bountiful foliage —

— while just a little further, through the glass walls, winter waits calmly outside.

The temperature is balmy in here (which in real life might not be so comfortable in a tuxedo, but that’s the beauty of doing this in blogland), so if you get too hot — well, wait a minute, I guess that’s the aim…. But if the temperature starts to feel too warm in here for you, feel free to step outside to the serene stillness of winter just beyond the glass.

So without further ado let me present you with the preparation process of Emerald’s Winter Salad:

-Approximately 6 cups fresh baby spinach
-1/2 cup sautéed diced zucchini and/or yellow squash (I used a combination)
-1/2 cup diced yellow tomato
-1/4 cup dried cranberries
-1/4 cup raw pine nuts
-1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola
-1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill
-a hint of minced garlic

-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
-2 teaspoons flax seeds

1) Chop dill.

2) Dice zucchini and/or yellow squash. Sauté on medium heat in extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill, and a hint of minced garlic (I myself found a clove to be too much), stirring occasionally, until soft, or about 8 minutes. Place in a separate container and put in the refrigerator to cool about 20 minutes.

3) Prepare dressing by combining ingredients in a small bowl.

4) Dice yellow tomato.

5) Place spinach in serving bowl. Add diced tomato, zucchini/squash, dried cranberries, and pine nuts and toss. Add dressing. Add gorgonzola (I like to do this last just so it doesn’t get squished so much) and serve.

I myself don’t drink, so I will be complementing my salad with a lovely sparkling blueberry juice from Trader Joe’s. :) However, for those of you for whom that does not seem so satisfying (which I suspect is a lot of you, lol), I have Mr. Emerald here, who not only does drink but is a renowned bartender and drink-inventor and will be presenting to accompany our winter salad one of his winter creations:

“When I was in the Caribbean, I was introduced to a cool little libation that goes by the name of ‘Banshee.’ It was the perfect midday cocktail in the warm, tropical sun. Sipping around a little paper umbrella on the deck of a snorkel boat or swigging them down by the cupful under a full sized umbrella on the beach. It’s a simple recipe… you can’t really ruin it if you try.

Take 1 part Crème de Cacao, 1 part Crème de Banana and 2 parts milk and combine them in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until frosty. Strain into a glass and garnish with an umbrella or pineapple wedge.

Me being ever the cocktail wizard, I couldn’t leave the Banshee be. I decided to ‘winterize.’ I created a drink called the ‘Whaling Banshee.’ It’s the same as the recipe above, except add 1 part Whaler’s Vanilla Rum. You can use Bacardi Vanilla Rum if you can’t find Whaler’s, but you lose the fun play on words in the title… and where’s the fun in that? The basic Banshee tastes like a bit of a chocolate and banana milkshake. The ‘Whaling Banshee’ tastes like a chocolate and banana milkshake that someone put booze into. It gives you that soft, warm feeling inside that often departs one on a cold winter night.”

Thank you Mr. Emerald!

Lastly, before I offer our discussion topic for the course, I want to extend a giant thank you to Donna George Storey and Kirsten Monroe for cooking up (oh, look at me being all punny) this magnificent idea and organizing us and also to my fellow hosts who have offered such beautiful presentations thus far and that I have no doubt will continue to tomorrow and the next day. ;) I have enormously enjoyed taking part, and I thank you, also, lovely reader, for being here.

So as we sit here amongst the sultry vibrance of summer and gaze upon the boundless silence of winter, I want to invite you to tell me about the seasons. Or season — which season do you find sexiest? Any particular one? Do you feel like the seasons influence your sexual experience? Seasonal memories you want to share?

Or if you’re feeling ambitious, tell me what you think is sexy about each season.

Thank you all so much, again, for being here. Tomorrow we will head to succulent Smut Girl Sommer Marsden for dessert — I mean, to her blog for her presentation of the dessert course. The Whaling Banshee is a sweet drink (I am told), leading us neatly into whatever sweet indulgence Sommer has planned for us….



44 Responses “Salad, Sequins, Seasons, and Sex”

  1. Erobintica says:

    Emerald, it’s all so lovely! It’s a wee bit early in the morning for libations – I’ll partake of the whaling banshee later on – but the salad looks like it would make a fine breakfast. I love salads made this way, with fruits, nuts, and cheese.

    I’ll ponder your question and pop back later. Did you have trouble loading your photos too? This morning I loaded mine with no problem, but last night, hahaha, the little blogger spinning thing just kept spinning. I finally gave up and went to bed.

    Yes, this blogland progressive dinner has been just the ticket to counteract those winter blues (another snowstorm on the way tomorrow – boo hoo) – and my daughter who lives in San Francisco knows better than to brag too much about the weather, haha.

    If you don’t mind, I intend to chase butterflies for awhile.

  2. Marina says:

    Greetings Emerald! It’s beautiful here! I love the contrast of the beautiful indoor garden and the snowy vista. Thanks for having us over today!

    The salad is delicious! (Really, I may run out to the grocery store and pick up ingredients – it’s just the perfect pick-me-up for a Monday.) You look hot in your sequins! Mr. Emerald looks hot, too. I love men in tuxedos!

    I think my favorite season is spring. Everything is fresh and new, full of hope. Flowers and trees are blooming, birds are singing. I equate spring with what it feels like when you are first falling in love with someone. Your heart does that little pitter-patter, your stomach does that little flip. Everything is in technicolor. All of your senses are heightened. Every little thing seems significant – your lover’s smell, the feel of their skin, the sound of their voice….

    Ahh – thinking of the warmth of the spring sun brings warm thoughts! Thanks! This will keep me smiling all day at work. I’ll stop back in later for a Banshee!

  3. Emerald says:

    Hi you two!! Thanks so much for coming by! How sweet of you to offer photo uploading difficulties as an excuse for my being a little late in posting, Robin, lol. ;) Actually, the issue I have had with Blogger today so far was in trying to comment on Marina’s blog. It ate my comments twice (possibly it wants to be involved in the progressive feast too)!

    What a beautiful commentary on spring, Marina. Wow, the first answer, and I’m already captivated, lol. Really. Thank you! I love men in tuxes too (yes, an ulterior motive in my dress code offering), and I love Mr. Emerald no matter what he wears, so I’m all set here! ;)

    Aren’t butterflies delightful? Please stay and follow them around as much as you like, Robin. Your Whaling Banshees will be waiting for both of you whenever you’re ready! ;)

  4. Marina says:

    Hey Emerald – just popping back in for a second. I found out about the Whiffle Hen! When you get a sec, check out my blog. Who knew?

    Will be back for butterflies and banshees – – –

  5. Neve Black says:

    What a wonderful way to begin Monday morning, Emerald. I find digging in the dirt and nurturing the gifts from Mother Nature very therapeutic and sexy as hell.

    You look fabulous in your pink gown. I love the contrast of pink with Emerald Green too. Mr. Emerald looks dapper and handsome wearing the penguin suit as well. It’s simply smashing!

    Summer is my favorite season. Hot, lazy-dazy-days; sipping ice cold drinks; wearing skimpy clothes and exposing lots of heat prickled skin is an instant aphrodisiac for me. I also love warm, balmy nights, where fireflies Tango and look for a mate. And clothes just seem to, oops, slip off so easily. Naked bodies getting tangled in sweaty sheets and the sounds of heavy sighs heard from the streets below – it’s all just too hot and summery.
    I will come back later and try one of these libations. For now, I’m having a bowl of this delicious green and healthy salad. Thank you for inviting me.

  6. Nikki says:

    Hey, Emerald!

    Wow, a greenhouse! Fabulous. And very apt for your glorious green-fingered self!

    The salad is so pretty, and I feel so virtually virtuous eating it that I shall have to indulge in Mr Emerald’s whaling banshee to balance! Cheers.

    As for seasons … oh damn, no, I can’t choose. I love the fresh peeking shoots of spring and the long langour of summer and the sweet wistful autumn and the monochrome sparse winter with crackling fires and woodsmoke and cold fingers …

    I heard this story recently. A man who lived in the wilds of Scandinavia was being interviewed. The interviewer asked what they did with their time up in the Arctic circle:

    “Well, in the summer we have fishing and fucking.

    In the winter, there is no fishing.”

    ; )

  7. Good morning! I love salad, especially where gorgonzola and garlic are involved. And I love butterflies. And greenhouses. I don’t know that I’ve ever shared gorgonzola with a butterfly in a greenhouse … but the day is still young. Oh, and I even have a tux. Even the trousers!! (Can you believe it?)

    Back in a bit to talk sexy seasons!

  8. Sommer says:

    Wow, Emerald, what a urm…spread :) I ran down Emerald Ave. as I do every morning (okay, you caught me. *Most* mornings) and wondered what you’d have in store for us. A bright green yummy salad, how fitting!

    That drink sounds great and I might have to give the mister a chaste kiss on the cheek in thanks.

    My sexiest season is definitely winter with fall not far behind. I like the boots and the jeans and snuggliing and fires. It all makes me feel very sexy and frisky and I love a good excuse to get warm ;) (though not with a sex wedge, it seems). IN the summer I am hot and cranky and we bicker back and forth over air conditioning. And in the Spring I am usually sneezing my ass off. :) LOL

    I’ll pop back in later to see what people are nibbling on! Thanks for the veggies. They are an aphrodisiac, yes? (Has anyone noticed that I ask this at every course! ha!)


  9. Emerald says:

    Neve, you are welcome here anytime. My favorite season is summer too. I seem to be a fan of heat! ;)

    Actually, Sommer, I had noticed a pattern in your aphrodisiacial questioning. ;) It made me laugh almost as much as your review of the sex wedge!

    Jeremy, your tux looks fantastic with your fedora and socks. ;) Looking forward to your return, and I’m setting aside some extra gorgonzola just for you. :)

    Thank you Nikki! Lol at the fabulous fishing story, which seems effective for making one appreciate winter! ;) I love that you talked about all of the seasons. :) My favorite is definitely summer, but I do recognize the gifts of all of them and aim to appreciate and revere them appropriately.

    I find it delightful that all of the seasons (in the Western calendar anyway — I must admit that since I have been a client of Five-Element Acupuncture for a few years, the tradition of which recognizes five seasons, I now think of the seasons as such) have been mentioned as favorites in just the first few responses. :) Thank you all so much for coming by! Please stop back anytime — the spinach, butterflies, and Whaler’s Rum are virtually limitless here! ;)

  10. The sexiest season for me would be late spring/early summer–warm enough that most people don’t need to wear coats, but not oppressively hot. I like to see people wearing the clothes (assuming they *are* wearing clothes) that they most want to wear, rather than having their attire dictated to some extent by weather. If I walk around a city when it’s about 70 degrees F (and not raining), I’m theoretically seeing more of people’s personal attires of choice than I would in colder or hotter weather (though I realize there are also other considerations, e.g., work-related requirements). The more “self-actualized” people are in their personal aesthetics, the sexier they are, in my book!

  11. Emerald says:

    What a thoughtful response, Jeremy. Funnily, that’s one of the reasons I have tended to love summer, except on the selfish end of it, lol — I like to wear whatever I want without worrying about whether I will be warm enough and/or having to cover it up with a coat. I never really thought about it in terms of seeing other people dressed by the same standards (ugh, not to sound too self-absorbed or anything!). What an interesting perspective — especially juxtaposed so charmingly with your comment about the sexiness of self-actualized aesthetics. :)

  12. KM says:

    Hi Emerald,

    Wow, what an amazing setting you have created for your incredible winter salad! I absolutely love the idea of summer and winter within skin’s reach of one another. It’s got me all tingly.

    My favorite season is late summer — the tomato and berry time of year. I love waking up in the morning when the air is that just-right temperature. Summers are absolutely gorgeous in the Northwest and it makes every ounce of rain & nastiness worth putting up with. I agree, there is definitely magic in the garden, plucking food from the earth and enjoying it with those we love and lust over. It’s a very sensual experience to gather at a table of fresh, home-grown and local foods. One of my favorite summertime activities is getting up at dawn to go berry picking, then spending a day making jam and pies. We also have a big pesto-making party every year in late summer. Friends bring their fresh basil over and we make buckets and buckets of pesto that we divide up and freeze for winter. The smell of basil fills the house and lingers on our skin for days.

    Thank you Emerald! Thank you, thank you!!

  13. Ah, Emerald, I totally share your sensual affinity for vegetables and it’s not cucumbers and zucchini as the popular imagination assumes (although I’ll be sauteeing some of that shortly to go with the bag of organic baby spinach from my CSA box), it’s all of them! I’m a bit late to this realization–I’m a late bloomer in many ways–but a salad or plate of crudites gets me high. I can just feel that raw energy from the earth nourishing my body and juicing me up all over. Mmmm. Might I add that your winter salad recipe has me totally inspired with all the goodies, nuts, dried fruit, piquant cheese. It’s like dinner and dessert all rolled up together (although I’ll still save room for Sommer’s delicious treat).

    I’m going to take your challenge to praise all four seasons, but first place has to go to autumn (how convenient this wasn’t yet taken). I’ve fallen in love twice in my life. The first was just practice, the second the real thing, but both happened in autumn and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

    I adore the richness of the afternoon light, which has a golden tinge like a fine sauternes. I love the way the breeze carries a hint of winter and encourages snuggling, but doesn’t go so far as to make you shiver (I shiver easily). I love the fall colors–especially in Japan where the maples look like scarlet lace against an azure sky. I love the amazing bounty of vegetables, the plump squash, the late tomatoes and the fresh apples, ohmigod, an apple in season is love’s nectar. Add in a few fresh cinnamon doughnuts (I avoid most doughnuts, but fresh cake doughnuts like the kind they make at country orchards are an exception I gladly make).

    I’m prattling on here, but I remember, too that it was on Halloween that Mr. DGS read my first erotic story and responded just as I hoped he would. That was the beginning of a very nourishing writer-first-reader relationship that has inspired me ever since :-)!

    I’ll be back with more after I fuel up with some of this fantastic salad.

  14. Emerald says:

    “I can just feel that raw energy from the earth nourishing my body and juicing me up all over.”

    Jeez, Donna, I got hot just reading that.

    “I’ve fallen in love twice in my life. The first was just practice, the second the real thing, but both happened in autumn and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”

    And that was so beautiful I almost got goosebumps! That’s true, autumn had only been mentioned as a second favorite. :) I’m so glad they’ve all been covered as someone’s #1 now. I love the diversity of perspectives.

    Your description of fall read like a poem! Uh, yeah, if you ever feel the urge to “prattle on,” please come do it at my blog!

    And thanks for the fabulous Halloween reminiscence (especially since it obviously keeps on giving!). I love Halloween. :)

  15. Emerald says:

    “My favorite season is late summer”

    Ah, funnily enough that is the fifth season (in addition to the familiar four I mean) in Five-Element Acupuncture. :)

    “It’s a very sensual experience to gather at a table of fresh, home-grown and local foods.”

    Beautiful. I love that too. I don’t know what it is about it, but something about such a close connection to the earth and nature’s processes and our own nourishment and the interconnectedness of it….

    Berries are one of my favorite foods; I relate to your love of the late summer due to their abundance. I love basil too and love that I’m now imagining that beautiful smell lingering….

  16. Nikki says:

    OOh, berries. Mmmm … brambles. Blackcurrants … hmmm mmmm gooseberries …

    The one problem with this dinner is that when I start to think about food I seem to turn into Homer Simpson. Maybe that’s down to Donna’s doughnuts?

    And yes, I second Emerald – I want to hear Donna poeticise *all* the seasons! Yes please!

  17. Hi Emerald,

    Everything is so lovely! I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan, so you hooked me nicely with the music as well as the lively settings.

    In that spirit, my favorite season, and as such the sexiest, has to be early spring. Winter is still holding on, but the smell of life is in the air. It brings me renewed energy. I also love the fall, with the smell of freshly fallen leaves, and “playing” in the leaves.

    In general, I like the transition months more than the extremes, but I like them all for different reasons, and each has its sexiness.

    As Sommer points out, there is snuggling in the cold of the winter.

    Unfortunately, it’s a work day, and I can only stay for a few minutes, but I will be back later in the day.

    Thank you for being so welcoming!

  18. Well, that salad is giving me all sorts of energy and ideas! Nikki, I’ve been giggling at the fishing joke all morning, and everyone’s descriptions of their sexiest season is making me realize each has its charms and that is a good thing! Oh, and I love seeing all the guys in tuxes. Sexy, sexy, SEXY!

    You may noticed I’ve changed into an emerald-green taffeta dress I bought at a vintage clothing shop in New York in the 1980s. I like to think it’s a party dress from the 1950s because it has a boat neckline and 3/4 sleeves and a crinoline-y skirt, but it could just be a retro bridesmaid gown. Still, with my hair in a chignon, I feel formal enough to circulate freely among you glitterati.

    Mr. Emerald, thank you for this deleeessshus Whaling banshee. I feel like I’m getting the jump on dessert with this, too, but I won’t tell, if you don’t!

    And all of you are so kind to indulge my ambitious goal to praise all the seasons. The two lovely photos you posted here bring to mind the section in The Tale of Genji (there she goes with the Japan stuff again ;-) where the mature playboy lives in a mansion with four pavilions, each dedicated to a season. Each pavilion has its own garden, which is at its best at its designated time of year. Each is occupied by one of his current or former lovers and my favorite is Akikonomu, literally, the lady who loves autumn. Murasaki (purple flower) for whom Lady Murasaki is named, lives in the spring pavilion where cherry blossoms and wisteria and irises abound. Besides being poetic and cool, this 1000-year-old story still finds expression in Japanese society today. The seasons are celebrated in the food, the festivals, the decorations in every shop, the sorts of clothes you wear and the way you decorate your home. Although here you can pretty much tell what time of year it is by the special color M&M’s they sell, we just don’t have that awareness. Btw, geisha and maiko count the seasons by traditional FIVE DAY periods, but don’t worry, Japan-o-phile though I may be, I won’t praise all 72 seasons, lol.

    Clearly, Emerald, your topic is most fruitful for my imagination. But I think I need another bite or two of salad for energy before I continue….

  19. Erobintica says:

    Donna beat me to it! Autumn is my favorite, though all the seasons have something to offer. I’m curious as to what the five seasons you mention are Emerald – or did I miss it?

    I just returned from a walk and was thinking on what each season means to me – I think I will start with Winter, where we’re at now.

    Being in New England, winter means snow and though I may complain about it, there is something incredibly sensual to me about falling snow – it reminds me of sex (like just about everything) – gentle, slow and floating at times, steady at others, and wild, stinging and driven at the best of times. I love a good blizzard! Maybe that’s why I tend to be more daring and adventurous in winter. But even when I’ve lived elsewhere, I loved winter storms – nothing beats a good Pacific storm for intensity.

    Spring is such a varied season. It comes late here. It’s such a tease. The first night when it’s warm enough to sleep with the windows open is always memorable. Being able to hear all the sounds of nature waking up and saying “I’m horny.” I think I like late spring/almost summer the best, and probably for reasons similar to Jeremy’s. Being able to shed the turtlenecks and scarves and feel the sun on bare skin is wonderful.

    Summer wants to pretend it’s sexiest – but it often brings that dreaded humidity – at least here (being out west again in summer made me miss the delight of being able to sit outside at night and enjoy the warmth without being eaten alive by bugs). Though I did write a poem with the line “skin peels away from skin like plastic wrap off frosted cake” – but I must say that investing in air conditioning a few years ago made sex in the summer so much … enticing. Laughed at Sommer’s hot & cranky (yup, can relate). But it is also the season of ripe, plump fruit and sensuous vines – a time when we can smell the world around us – cooking smells from bbqs, that just before lightning smell of ozone, unadulterated perspiration.

    But Autumn… it’s nature undressing.

    Early there’s just a hint of color, just a hint of chill in the air. Then the riot of colors begins, always different, and the wind sends leaves dancing across lawns and streets. The blouse is unbuttoned. The colors change, more leaves drop. The blouse comes off, the skirt falls to the ground. But then in late autumn (my favorite of my favorite) the trees are bare and you can see the lay of the land, the stone walls, the places hidden at other times of the year. So what if the colors are muted and earthy? A late November day, a slate sky, clouds promising snow…

    then winter again and another storm on the way.

    Now I think I’ll settle back with a whaling banshee and eat salad with my fingers.

    Hope I wasn’t too wordy. ;-) Umm, I’ve got a thing for seasons.

  20. Too wordy? I’m begging for more. Your food-sex images are right up my alley (she admits, licking the frosting from the plastic wrap….)

    Autumn as “nature undressing”–Yes! And she’s a mature woman who knows what she wants and knows how to enjoy it ;-).

  21. Yes, I love the image of nature’s skirt falling to the ground!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hi again,
    I’m baaaaack to converse some more and of course I think 2:00 p.m. is a respectable hour for cocktailing. I’m ready for a whaling banshee.

    I love hearing all about everyone’s favorite sexy season (s). It’s a fascinating discussion topic, Emerald.

    I’ll try and stop back again. Carry on!

  23. Neve Black says:

    Oops, cut me off already from these delicious whaling banshees…I’m anon above. :-)

  24. Erobintica says:

    haha, I was wondering who that was.

    hands Neve a banshee to go ;-)

  25. KM says:

    Oh my goodness. This is just all so tasty. Fall as nature undressing!!! Love that! Does make winter one big lap dance?

    One thing I love about both being into food and physical activity is that all the seasons offer so much. It’s just a matter of taking advantage of the riches offered up at each time of year. The first balmy day of spring, the first cool-enough-for-a-roast & mashed potatoes day of late fall, the first spinning snowflakes and fresh-baked cookies day of winter, the first strip down to nothing and sleep on the deck day of summer. All brilliant!

  26. KM says:

    ….and by physical activity I don’t only mean sports :)When nature is undressing and dancing all around, it’s just impossible to sit still!

  27. Well, Anony-Neve, if you insist, I will take advantage of the very warm feeling these Whaling Banshees are kindling in my secret places to fulfill my threat–I mean promise–to praise each of the 72 seasons and their culinary treasures.

    What’s interesting is that my memories keep returning to Japanese seasons, perhaps because I took the seasons for granted as a child and they revolved around school. The different smells and foods and rituals I encountered in Japan captured my senses because of their very difference from what I knew.

    My first apartment in Kyoto had no heat except a kerosene stove and a table with a quilt and a light bulb under it for warmth and I learned the true meaning of C-O-L-D, seeing my own frosty breath when I woke up in the morning, my body still warm under the futon. I understood why “nabe” (hot pot stews) were so popular, and smoky sweet bean soups with roasted rice cakes, and oden stands manned by tattooed gangsters by the railroad stations–huge vats of simmering fish cakes, radishes, potatoes and eggs and you’d point to what you wanted and they’d hand it to you in a bowl with a dab of sinus-clearing mustard.

    Spring was cherry blossom party time when all of Japan flocks to the famous parks to sit under the pink snow and eat and drink. Sake flows freely, accompanied by sushi and picnic lunches and grilled octopus. The best cherry blossom meal I ever had featured fresh bamboo shoots (so much better than canned) on a private pleasure boat on the Katsura River, courtesy of a rich dentist friend. A sinewy older guy poled us along making me feel very Tale of Genji as I nibbled at my elegant box lunch.

    Summer is hot and sticky in Kyoto and everyone seeks out cooling food. Salted sweetfish is in season and juicy peaches. My favorite lunch was “kakigori,” a huge mound of shaved ice with three different zones of flavor–green tea, condensed milk and sweet bean jam–with a few jelly-like rice dumplings for fun. Yes, it was dessert, but I was on my own and could do as I pleased, so it was a daily sugar rush and toothache, but it did fight the heat.

    Autumn is chestnut and sweet potato season and the tofu hot pot restaurants in the eastern part of the city do brisk business. In keeping with my fall romance tradition, I had my blind date with the real inspiration for Amorous Woman’s Yuji in October and we went to a temple for “hot water tofu.” I was trying to be a proper Japanese lady by pouring his sake and ended up dousing his hand with the hot liquid like a total foreign klutz. He seemed to find it amusing, but it wasn’t an auspicious beginning, alas….

    Well, I’ll sit back now and enjoy your tales of snow and spring sap and bare flesh!

  28. Emerald says:

    Oh, Craig, I’m so glad you like the music! I love Pink Floyd. Not to deviate too much from the subject at hand, but my story in Sex and Music pays homage to them! (They are also Mr. Emerald’s favorite band, lol.)

    “Umm, I’ve got a thing for seasons.”

    Obviously you’ve come to the right place, and I’m so glad you did! What a beautiful expose about the seasons…wow. Thank you so much! I’m seconding (thirding, fourthing) the love of the metaphor of autumn being nature undressing.

    The five seasons of Five-Element Acupuncture are the four with which we’re familiar plus Late/Indian Summer. The seasons in Five-Element aren’t congruent so much with the Western calendar and when it says the seaons “start” (e.g., winter on December 21) but rather correspond much more closely with the Equinoxes and Solstices. As far as Late Summer, while in my understanding it is a literal time around August, it also is representative of the transition time between all the seasons, which I thought of when Craig mentioned his like of that. (Possibly my acupuncturist will stop by later, and she may expound on the topic much more precisely and accurately. ;))

    Donna, thank you for sharing the fabulous Japanese story of Gengi! How fascinating, a garden for each of the seasons that particularly thrives at that time. I LOVE your dress, 1950s party dress or retro bridesmaid dress alike, and you look fabulous in it!

    I, too, am loving everyone’s discussion about the seasons. And I love KM’s comment that all the seasons offer so much. Indeed! I used to not see much past my love of summer and pretty much waiting for it to come, but I feel so appreciative of having come to see the unique beauty and offerings of each season. They seem such a portrayal of balance. They each offer something specific, and there would be a lack of completeness without any one of them.

  29. Emerald says:

    Lol @ winter being “one big lap dance”!!

    Ah, Donna, thank you once again for your beautiful flowing words about Japan and seasons. Even made me giggle at the end with the phrase “total foreign klutz.” So hard to imagine you as such. :) Thank you for sharing!

    All these beautiful seasonal descriptions are seriously almost making me shiver — in the good way. ;)

  30. KM says:

    I love Pink Floyd too Emerald. Pink Floyd was there for my first kiss. Swoon!

    “Summer is hot and sticky in Kyoto and everyone seeks out cooling food. Salted sweetfish is in season and juicy peaches. My favorite lunch was “kakigori,” a huge mound of shaved ice with three different zones of flavor–green tea, condensed milk and sweet bean jam–with a few jelly-like rice dumplings for fun.”

    What I wouldn’t do for multi-zoned mounds of tea-flavored ice and fun dumplings!

  31. Those spaces between the seasons are some of the most special to me, because the seasons interchange. Like the seasons are making love. I’ve even written a few poems on that very theme.

    All these excellent stories and musings on the seasons.

    What a treat!

  32. “Like the seasons are making love.”

    Oooh, I like that. And as autumn slithers out of her skirt, what is Sommer doing? (Putting together a wonderful dessert, no doubt :-)

    It strikes me, too, that short stories are usually centered around a moment of change/transition. It’s an especially creative place to linger.

    Much food for thought here!

  33. Kesrya says:

    Emerald’s acupuncturist here … really enjoying the discussions of the seasons. It is really delightful to read and therefore experience each person’s favorite season through their own eyes.

    Mmmm, spinach salad. This is certainly my favorite. And keeping with the discussion of the seasons this is the perfect salad for this time of year.

    You see, we have just entered early spring according to Ancient Chinese Medicine. The height of winter was December 21st, the longest night of the year. And as the daylight returns, spring begins, even though it still may feel too cold outside. In fact, February 2nd is truly the beginning of spring. Today the bulbs beneath the earth have just begun to sprout — they are waiting beneath the surface to spring forward towards the light.

    Spinach is a dark, leafy green which corresponds with winter. Yet it helps to cleanse the Liver, which is associated with spring. Enjoying Emerald’s tasty recipe above helps keep body, mind and spirit free and clear and energized.

    In response to the question about the Five seasons — we have the regular four: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with what is known as “transition” between each. For example, right now we are the Transition season where some days it still feels like Winter, others it feels like Spring. It’s like the weather can’t make up its mind yet. This transition is often most apparent between Summer and Autumn, so the fifth season is often referred to as Late Summer.

    Well, I’m just finishing up here in the clinic. So I’m going to head home and make myself this delicious salad as well as the equally delectable Whaling Banshee and relax for the evening. Thank you Emerald!

  34. Emerald says:

    Kesrya! Thanks for stopping by! And also for your much more comprehensive and coherent discussions of the Five-Element seasons than mine, lol. Very cool! I’m so glad to know spinach fits with the time of year. :) Maybe that’s why it seemed like that salad was the one that wanted to be offered even though I was pulling for the summer one.

  35. Emerald says:

    We’re not only having seasonal sex here, we have seasons having sex!

    And look what else is going on! ;) Lol.

  36. EllaRegina says:

    Wow, eating in a greenhouse! My dream has always been to live in one. And being served a marvelous salad by a beautiful woman bedecked in pink, and her Mr in a tux, butterflies swirling around us… Winter and Summer separated by a pane of glass.

    I like any season in which I am not cold. Autumn has traditionally been my favorite but I like the renewal and hope that arrives with the Spring.

    The responses here are amazing. “Nature undressing” !!!!

    Thank you for being green!

  37. Emerald says:

    ER! I was just thinking about you. Thanks for stopping by!

    There was a botanical garden/greenhouse near where I grew up that we went to sometimes when I was a kid, and I wanted to live there too. :)

  38. EllaRegina says:

    A combination treehouse/greenhouse would push all my buttons, actually. The leafy overhead might offset the humidity within.

  39. Salad is so vivifying–like Donna, I feel the energy pouring into me. Although it would be too hard to actually do for me, the whole raw food concept is appealing to me–the juice of living cells.

    Seasons and sexuality–what a great topic! I love weather of all kinds and appreciate each of the seasons in turn, though spring and fall are my favorites. It’s one of the disappointments of adulthood to me that there are weather consequences I don’t like (commuting in winter storms, losing power, leaks, scary high winds), whereas when I had fewer responsibilities, I loved them all. Ice storms are so magical if you don’t rely on electricity!

    But when I started thinking about the seasons relating to sexuality, rather than what it’s like to wander the outdoors, I realized that to me they are backdrops to the bed. When I think of magical sex, it’s in our cozy bed. I love how the seasons interact with that environment, but they don’t predominate. So winter is cuddling under the comforter, like puppies in a basket; spring is when a cracked-opened window sends a delicious fresh breeze across naked skin, until the sheet’s pulled up again; summer is all covering cast aside, screened windows wide to the bird song and insect hums; fall is the first feeling of flannel sheets, the renewed pleasure of snuggling without stickiness.

    It’s funny that I’m a very outdoorsy person to whom the notion of making love outside doesn’t appeal at all. When I’m outside, my focus is on my surroundings–observing, interacting, experiencing. Making love is about focusing on my darling, the two of us in our own little world.

  40. Emerald says:

    “Although it would be too hard to actually do for me, the whole raw food concept is appealing to me–the juice of living cells.”

    Oh I really hear you there, Helia. I have not felt called to actually do it, but I also really find the idea just energizing — living energy straight from nature to us!

    “Ice storms are so magical if you don’t rely on electricity!”

    They really are incredibly aesthetically beautiful, aren’t they?

    I loved your commentary about how the seasons interact with your inside surroundings! Very cool!

    Thanks so much for coming! (Heh, after all, we are indoors, really….)

    EllaRegina, I also used to think it would be cool to live in a treehouse, lol. I love your description of the “leafy overhead”!

  41. Marina says:

    Sorry I’m stopping back so late! Just back for a quick nightcap – the banshees are wonderful!

    There was some truly beautiful writing and exquisite imagery here today. Just simply stunning! I have nothing to add, except my thanks to all of you, and especially to you, Emerald, for being a woman for all seasons!

  42. Tree houses, warm puppies in a basket, such magical, comforting images, ER and Helia! Truly, thank you everyone for your gorgeous writing. I’ve been thinking about the seasons and paying attention to the quality of the air and light and the new plum blossoms all day (sorry, East Coasters, it’s very spring-like in the Bay Area today). And I went and got some gorgonzola to make the virtual real tomorrow night. Of course, special thanks to Ms. and Mr. Emerald for an inspiring and delicious party.

  43. KM says:

    “summer is all covering cast aside, screened windows wide to the bird song and insect hums; fall is the first feeling of flannel sheets, the renewed pleasure of snuggling without stickiness.”

    Helia, such a wonderful description!

    Thank you Kesrya! I had no idea that “Indian Summer” was a fifth season and I am so excited because that truly is my favorite. I love fall too, but mostly I love that transitional time between the two when there is ripeness and richness everywhere.

    Thank you again Emerald!

  44. Emerald says:

    Thank you all again — I had SUCH a good time today and thank you so much for being here, truly. You’re all welcome here anytime, and no worries, Marina, you’re not late — we’re here all night. ;)

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