Monday, April 27, 2009


There’s no doubt about it, spring is my favorite season. Legend has it that the day I was born (at home) my grandmother wrapped me in a blanket and took me into the garden to look at the pear blossoms. I think that’s called imprinting.

Every year since, I experience a feeling of euphoria as I see life returning. It’s worth going through the winter to see spirited little flowers lifting their heads while the rest of us are still wearing boots and scarves. It’s been a cold, damp spring so far but here they come, the early spring flowers, cheering us up with their brilliance.

The person who related the seasons to the human color palette was so right. Just look around you and see what spring has to offer – clear yellows, aqua blues, peach and bright greens – all colors that flatter yellow-undertoned spring women and men. And then summer with its dusty blues, mauves, pinks, blue reds and sage greens, perfect for cool undertones. Fall takes the spring colors and deepens them into golds, burnt oranges, rich blues and greens. Winter around here is famous for its white off-set with dark tree trunks. Truly, winter people are the only ones who are flattered by black or white. They wear it – for the rest, it wears us.

I know having your colors done is considered old fashioned now but I am still a firm believer in it. It works. It really does. And it works just as well for makeup as for clothing.

Funny that I was born in the spring, love the spring and, in the season color system, I’m a spring. Oh, yes, I’d sometimes love to be one of those women whose wardrobe is nothing but black with some crisp white blouses (travelling is a breeze) but the truth is that my skin looks better wearing a yellow-undertoned color next to it. And if I try to wear anything but a warm or neutral color on my lips, I look as if I’m ready for the morgue.

We have a nest of pine siskin’s on our porch. Mamma has produced five babies – something that she and her mate marvel at quite a bit as they perch on the side of the nest for a breather. As the babies poke up their heads, all I can see are their bright yellow beaks, the same color as my daffodils. Isn’t nature amazing?!

For all of you springs out there, enjoy your season.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I love fish. I like to look at them in aquariums; I like to swim with them, and I enjoy them on my plate. Poaching a sea bass with ginger and shiitake mushrooms is a sublime experience. Oh, yes, and I love sushi!

It probably has roots in my childhood when we would fish in the English Channel behind the chalet my parents rented for two weeks on the Isle of White. We always rented the chalet called Mine and ‘Ers right next to the one called ‘Ers and Mine. The highlight of each day – weather permitting – was to paddle in the shallow water with fishing nets and then examine our catch – small flat fish, crabs, strangers, seaweed and best of all shrimp. Not the steroid variety that I’ve become accustomed to here, but small brown ones packed with flavor. After jumping and shimmering in our nets, they were rewarded with the cooking pot. There was nothing like the satisfaction of feeding ourselves from the bountiful ocean.

Problem is the ocean isn’t so bountiful now. I recently experienced an environmental conference in Eleuthera at The Island School,, where marine scientists gathered to discuss the state of the oceans and climate change – it wasn’t pretty. Even the scientists were depressed.

Now I can’t look at or order fish without going through a litany of questions: Is it endangered? Is it farmed? If so, how? Are the farms damaging to the environment – other species? What are they fed – antibiotics? Dyes? If they’re wild caught – how? What damage to ocean biodiversity do the fishing methods cause? The shrimp I loved so much are now off limits to me. There simply isn’t a way – wild or farmed – that doesn’t drastically damage the environment. For example, here are two pictures showing what happens to healthy coral when the bottom-trawling boats have been through harvesting animals like shrimp. It could be the surface of the moon. It will take hundreds of years to return to the way it was.

Picture courtesy of

How much of an effect has over-fishing had? Consider this, the biomass in the North Atlantic fell by 90% during the 20th century. I don’t want to turn you into someone who waiters run away from when you open the menu, but if you want an easy way to know what your best choices for fish are then there’s a very handy guide put out by Seafood Watch published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium (a fabulous place, by the way) It lists fish in three ways: Best Choices, Good Alternatives and Avoid.

Good luck. It isn’t easy being green!