Peas and plants: New Year's musings from Atlanta

Welcome 2012.  I celebrated in Southern Style, with Hoppin' John, Toddies, and collards for good luck (see below for the yummy recipe), as I popped into Atlanta for just a minute.  It's been so warm in the daytime that the toad lilies have started flushing out their speckled new growth, which doesn't bode well for their hardiness in a late freeze.  Phlox subulata is peeking out underneath inflatable Santas, insisting that people get on the stick and take down their holiday decorations.  Amethyst Callicarpa berries still hung heavy along arching branches as some Prunus mume burst forth cheerful early blooms.  I would say that it's strange, but I seem to say that every year about unexpected shifts in the Atlanta clime.  This week, though, the cold is moving in for winter.

A windy walk up Arabia mountain allowed me to reflect heavily on the past year and was a peaceful trek towards the coming year.  The resilient Diamorpha smallii was starting to pop up in the solution pits, sprawling a cranberry carpet on the exposed granite and among the mosses and lichens.  Germinating in remaining pools from the recent rain, it sent up filiform stems with tiny succulent pods on top (NB: a succulent germinating in a pool of water!).  There was something reassuring about this niche plant's amazing adaptive buoyoncy in the face of such extreme conditions as Arabia Mountain.  It was a lovely incarnation of intentions I set for the coming year.  Flexibility, resiliency, fearlessness, perseverence, verve, charm--tools to carry our souls forward with grace.
Happy New Year, friends!

Diamorpha smallii on Arabia Mountain, GA

Hoppin John--Serve with Collards


  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lb  ham hock
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 1 quart chicken stock 
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 tblspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tblspoon of Mrs. Dash
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 c tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 3 cups steamed rice
  • Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste


Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice with collard greens.


  1. Beautiful photos! Welcome home, if only for a minute!


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