It’s an early fall day, cool and bright. The sun has been falling on us like clear water all day.
This morning when I looked out the kitchen window at the garden, I saw that my dogwoods and serviceberries were full of little birds, visitors passing through. I haven’t been feeding the birds lately because we’ve had rats in the garden, but since it’s migration time I filled the feeder again — let the rats feast, too, if they haven’t moved on.
After the hopper on the bird feeder was full of peanuts and millet and sunflower seeds, I sat outside with my toast and peanut butter. Two kinds of peanut butter — I bought a jar of the terrible kind with the added fat and sugar for a recipe (and because my kids love it) but couldn’t bring myself to use it on both slices of toast. I spread the other piece of toast with that earnest no-additives peanut butter, the kind I usually buy.
I brought my book outside but I didn’t open it — I was too busy. It was so quiet that the quiet was something you could listen to, and watch. Long weekend Sunday mornings in the city are a unique and precious thing.
Word got around fast about the bird feeder. Nuthatch visited, and a pair of woodpeckers. A little squirrel came to look at the nuts I’d spilled on the deck, but he couldn’t pick them up because his mouth was full of an acorn which he must have carried for quite a while, because the nearest oak is a few houses away. He finally decided to bury the acorn and come back, but by then he had attracted the attention of my old cat, so he teased her instead, playing chase under the chairs. While he was distracted a different squirrel, older and wiser, ate the spilled nuts.
It’s afternoon now, and the light is still golden and clear. Like this morning’s visitors, I was hunting around for a snack, and like them I found peanuts. In my fridge I had a container of a Korean banchan (side dish) made of peanuts and anchovies in a sticky, sweet sauce. Apparently best served with rice (and optional beer), but I nibbled on it for an afternoon snack.
I did not buy the peanut and anchovy banchan myself — I don’t usually shop at any store more international than Longo’s. A family member bought it but didn’t care for the unique combination of fish and legumes and sugar, so offered it around. I will try most things once, so I gave it a home.
The verdict is I probably wouldn’t buy it, but if it were served to me at a restaurant I would eat it. (Like most banchan, actually, which makes sense: they’re not meant to take a starring role, they are the backup singers of Korean cuisine.)
I wondered about peanuts; they are so delicious and so widely popular. “How did they get so popular in Asia,” I asked myself, “when they are originally African?” WRONG. Apparently they’re “endemic to South America” and were spread around the world by Europeans. The world loves them — squirrels and nuthatches and blue jays and humans alike.