Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In The Hood: Police, Pit Bulls & Strawberries

These last few weeks have done nothing to endear me to Everett, to this neighborhood, to this block. I never thought of myself as someone who would live in the Hood. Ha! Growing up I didn’t even know what the Hood was, but over the years, since leaving college I’ve lived or worked in more than one, Downtown Los Angeles, East LA and now Everett.  Oh Everett, things like, police, Pit Bulls off leash (I mean come on people, really?? Pit Bulls Off Leash??), poor schools, and indoor furniture on the front porch are more common than Bush-Cheney signs in rural North Georgia during 2004.

Twice in the past few weeks, in the middle of the night, the police have set up camp outside our bedroom window with their lights flashing and siren going off every few minutes for more than an hour each time. Turns out, they are searching for a suspect. Several police park around the neighborhood to create a sort of perimeter, while more police with K-9s set out on foot to try to capture the criminal. Lovely. The flashing lights, the noise, the middle of the night, let me tell you how enjoyable that’s been!  Add our 80 pound hyperventilating dog to the mix and it all makes for fun times.

Last Sunday while cutting chives for our breakfast, a car of thugs spewed down our street, one of them hanging out the window yelling all kinds of B, F and C words at our neighbor two doors down and threatening to “SHOOT [his] A--!”

“Can you all just calm down for a minute while I cut some chives on this nice peaceful SUNDAY MORNING!” I wanted to say. Instead, the thugs drove by, yelling and throwing things out of their car a few more times, someone called the police, and eventually all was well with the neighborhood for a few minutes. 

This same two-doors-down-neighbor, who is probably my age, and lives there with his mom when he’s not doing time in prison has a Pit Bull puppy he keeps off leash in his unfenced front yard. When I say, "puppy" I'm talking a fully grown puppy. Picture me and the two kids walking Dizzy down the block when out of nowhere comes this rambunctious Pit Bull running towards us. “Oh, she’s friendly!” the neighbor calls as he tries to coerce her back into his yard. "She just loves kids!"

I bet she loves kids, I thought!  One day, about two weeks ago the Pit Bull ran down the block and pushed her way into our front yard through the gate with the neighbor's girlfriend chasing behind, while the Pit chased Lily and Jasper. Mad is a nice word to describe me at that point. I won’t elaborate on the conversation the girlfriend and I had; it was short and to the point. Several neighbors have called Animal Control; things have been quieter in the Hood, but let me tell you, it sure makes “hanging out” in the garden with the kids much less fun.

And, that’s not even the only Pit Bull dog experience we’ve had in Everett this month, but I won’t bore you. Something about June, it’s not a good month for me. 

Unless you want to talk Strawberries! In that case, I love the Hood! Hood Strawberries that is. Simply put, they are amazing!

Talk about the sweetest, juiciest, most delicious tasting thing ever in such a simple small bite of greatness picked from our own garden.  I’m certain these little jewels can’t solve all the world’s problems or even make my neighborhood less of a Hood, but a girl can dream, can’t she!  And the kids love them!  It took Jasper a few pickings and bowls full to warm up to the idea, but one morning recently he helped me pick them and eat them!!!  Yes, this is a food victory in our house, where, I swear to God, this stubborn boy can survive on goldfish and milk alone.

Lily’s become a bit paranoid about spiders and such so she’s much more skeptical about each bite of food she puts in her mouth from the garden, but even the sweet taste of a Hood can’t deter her.  I love the way she’s learning to talk about food, too. “Mmm, this one is so juicy! Or I think these are a bit tart for my taste, Mama.”  

We've been picking bowls full for the last two weeks and there's a ton more to come. If you're looking for that big brassy, show-offy kind of strawberry, Hood's not the girl for you. She's smaller, often oddly shaped and not very big, but oh the flavor!  Sugary sweet, almost, dare I say, like Kool-Aid. 

Our favorite ways to eat them are: alone and unadorned, dipped in bittersweet chocolate, or with Greek honey yogurt for Lily.  And today we are making homemade Hood strawberry ice cream, the only kind of strawberry ice cream one ever needs to eat! I hope you find some Hood to enjoy this summer.

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