where the butterfly flew

Black sooty mold covering much of our property on the north side of our house results in anger?  Well, yes.  Or, maybe.  Wait a minute, I am not so sure.  But, I am sure that anger wraps itself around a victim and squeezes tightly.  (As it did to me for a few days.) It is the python of human emotions.

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While I was finishing cutting off numerous palm fronds and tree branches sticky with a white, sugary substance (called honeydew) and slick with black sooty mold the rugose spiraling whitefly leaves behind, again I contemplated this anger I had. Really?  Could I really be this angry at a whitefly (even if the South Florida press does call it an insect tsunami) that is feeding on much of our landscaping? At its root, the anger seemed misguided. But, surely there must be somewhere or something to whom, at whom, I can point the finger for this grave injustice.

Meanwhile, this anger found me outside cutting back foliage surrounded by the tiny white creature flying about madly as I removed their food source.  Spontaneously, I found myself asking the flies (while swatting them away from my head) if we could find a peaceful way to coexist.  Say, possibly, a bit of a more balanced approach than black soot covering the north side of our property.  Then, just as quickly and without conscious thought, I asked myself if I could find a bit of a more balanced approach when dealing with myself.  Without making this too confusing, in other words, I discovered I was angry at myself.

Red Croton

As soon as I had made that realization, everything softened.  It all kinda drooped into a deflated acceptance.  As the anger with myself melted, I was no longer angry with mother nature.  Annoyed, perhaps, at still having to deal with this new insect wanting to feed on many of our plants, but the anger that squeezes tightly was gone.

I continued working, yet the work was different.  Yes, I still needed to remove the heavily infested fronds from one plant in particular.  But, I now did so at a slower pace.  I, once again, tuned into what was going on in nature around me.  (While in my angry state, I was just whacking away at fronds not available emotionally to listen to the wind or the birds.)  As I was finishing up, a large black and yellow butterfly came to rest on our viburnum hedge an arm’s length from me.  It rested for a beat or two – longer than I’ve witnessed before.  It seemed to be acknowledging my acceptance of anger at myself.  At the same time, I acknowledged the presence of peace.

Here is a summery creamy dressing to use on salads, stir into grains, or as a sandwich spread.
Creamy Avocado Dressing
Creamy Avocado Dressing
Megan Gordon’s recipe

1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Combine all ingredients except for the yogurt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Process until smooth.  Add yogurt.  Give it one more whirl or two to combine. Taste and adjust for salt.

Spinach and Walnut Sauce (the unpesto, pesto)

Spinach and Walnut Sauce

Beginning in spring and well into summer, many different kinds of pesto recipes are featured throughout the food world.  I’ve never been a fan of pestos.  While I love the (typically) bright emerald green colors, I’ve always found them too heavy, too garlic-y, too something.  Yet, the idea of grinding a vegetable or herb, fat(s), salt, and acid together producing a sauce is very appealing.

So, I came up with this spinach and walnut sauce that I’ll stir into brown rice and garbanzo beans this evening. Served over a bed of wilted spinach with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, the unpesto pesto looks pretty good.


Pestos can be enjoyed on pasta or rice.  They can be stirred into egg dishes, or spread onto a sandwich.

Spinach and Walnut Sauce 

Cook’s Notes:  I found the garlic packs just enough punch. The lemon juice, while perceptible, is not overpowering, and the walnuts are a good amount of fat.  To make this into a more traditional pesto, add extra virgin olive oil to taste and desired consistency.

  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 t. salt (scant) + more to taste
  • 1/3 c. walnuts (heaping)
  • 2 c. tightly packed baby spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry, stems removed
  • 1/4 c. parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

All of these ingredients can be processed in a food processor.  Or, if grinding by hand in a mortar and pestle, begin mashing the garlic, salt, and walnuts together.  Once finely ground, add the spinach and parsley a handful at a time along with the lemon juice.  Work in a circular motion with the mortar until desired consistency.  Taste and adjust for salt.  Yield: 1/2 c.