Hello Summer

Where are we and why are we in this handcart?

Never mind that the Solstice is still a week away. It’s full-on summer in the Ohio River Valley, which is to say, swampy and nap-inducing. It feels like an injustice that we should have all of the humidity and none of the joie de vivre of, say, New Orleans, but this is our fate.

My writing space is on the second floor of my (antebellum) house, with its retrofitted AC system that does its best but barely manages to lift a scintilla of cool air from the cellar two floors below. Do you dislike the phrase “first world problem” as much as I do? Fair enough. In another younger day we might have gone down to the river to cool off, but our Belle Riviere is by most measures the most polluted waterway in the U.S., carrying the industrial and agricultural effluent of six states, including the waste water from 58 power plants, more than half of them coal-fired, which means mercury, arsenic and lead are among those waste products.

This is a river from which five million people get their drinking water. Yes, it is.

Meanwhile, my U.S. representative as well as the state’s two senators, all three of them Republicans who supported the deregulatory efforts of the Former Guy, have positioned themselves squarely in the DGAF camp. Commerce uber alles.

You’re appalled, I’m appalled. Let’s move on.

I heard from my former chef from the now-defunct cafe where the two of us stumbled through the pandemic last year. He’s now the manager at a plant-based joint on the other side of town. He still wants his own restaurant, even after the pandemic tore the curtain aside and revealed the plantation system that is the restaurant industry in this country. This is (one reason) why we should welcome immigrants (he is from Ecuador): they are hopeful, optimistic. I wish him well.

Speaking of cafes, I bought a version of this sandwich at least once a week from the Alfalfa’s Market down the block from my third-floor walk-up on Capitol Hill in Denver, back in the day. Alfalfa’s got swallowed up by Whole Foods, which is now owned by Amazon, but the sandwich still rules. (via Joy the Baker.)

What’s on your plate this week?

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