Filled to the brim, the blue pot simmers peacefully

Published 7:51 pm Thursday, March 20, 2014

“Winter? Spring? Who knows?
White buds from the plumtrees wing
And mingle with the snows.
No blue skies these flowers bring,
Yet their fragrance augurs Spring.”

– excerpt from ‘Tanka’
by Sadakichi Hartmann

On silver-iced days of winter/spring, a blue French pot of homemade spaghetti sauce simmers on the stove often, making the house seem warmer with delicious scents wafting throughout. After a quick trip todowntown Saluda, River dog and I decided it was a day to hibernate, write, read, and stir sauce. So, hunting through the freezer jungle, I emerged victorious with two packs of ground beef—one in a zip-lock bag, the other still in store-wrapping. Then rummaged through pantry shelves for tomatoes—paste, whole, crushed, diced; and various herbs, olive oil, chopped onions, garlic, the whole nine yards. The  spaghetti sauce recipe is derived from my dad’s World War II time in Italy: he taught my mother to cook this divine sauce: over the years, I’ve added my own spin on it along with his.
Sauteing onions, tossing in garlic, finally adding in meat, I hustle back and forth in the kitchen – River hovers patiently nearby, watching intently, just in case something falls his way. A tidbit of browned meat gets handed down to the helpful sous chef, who declares it perfect, contently licking his wrinkly chops, his good eye shining up at me in hope of more, please! Indeed it is a rule: good cooks DO taste—and sniff, and look twice at what they throw in. (Some cooks never learn, do they?) Good cooks should label zip-lock bags—and never depend on their not-so-infallible memory.
Stirring browned meat and onions, what’s this? I could swear there’s a hint of sausage-sage-scent wafting up. Sudden thought: did I throw in a piece of Charlie’s sausage by accident? It’s possible I had a bit frozen for Sunday morning sausage biscuits for my young man’s visits home from Atlanta. Unable to tell (allergies have blocked my sense of smell a good bit this past week), I wondered if  I’d mistakenly given River sausage instead of plain beef. Oh oh. Too late!
The good news is I don’t think I did, still unsure—that hint of sage might’ve been my imagination, or from the spice jars I rummaged through.
Filled to the brim, the blue pot simmers peacefully; I went ahead and forged ahead with the makings—if there IS any contraband sausage in that pot, I will oregano, garlic, basil the rascal out! River is fine—no strange tummy noises emitting yet– curled up near the gas logs as I write your column, dear reader. You’ve heard of making lemonade from life’s lemons…that goes for spaghetti sauce as well.

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Saluda Welcome Table is every Tuesday, with dinner served from 5:30-7 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Saluda United Methodist Church. All welcome; donations accepted.

The Robinson Community Garden (sponsored by Saluda Community Land Trust) on Henderson Street is ready for gardeners: next sign-up date is April 10. For information, contact Dave and Marilyn Prudhomme at 828-749-9172 or e-mail

Saluda’s Tree City USA meets at Saluda Library 6:15 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month.

Mark your calendar for the community potluck and bingo evening at Saluda Center, March 31 at 6 p.m.; bring a favorite dish to share.

Happy March Birthday to: Faye Chandler, Genell Jespersen, Charlene Pace, Valerie Mintz, Sheldon Mintz, Curtis Pace, Anita Odgen Moore, Lloyd Thompson, Charles Weinhagen,   Kevin Kerr, Dorrie McKinnley, Catherine Ross, Jane Fox, Beverly Pickard, Monica Pace, Ken Justus, Elizabeth Justus, Tonya Jackson, Peggy Wolf, Martin Anderson, and Laura Bass.
Add your name to the birthday list! It’s a promise no ages will be mentioned unless you’re under two or over a hundred!
Thank you dear readers, for reading this column! As ever, the goal is to make you feel like you’re enjoying a front porch visit (or a plateful of homemade spaghetti) and small town life in a friendly little mountain town called Saluda. You can contact me at; or 828-749-1153, visit my website at for more writing and art, or find me on facebook.