This is one of those posts which arise when a taste takes me to a different time and place — in this case, a memory I’ve mentioned before, namely a house near Rocky Creek Bridge on Highway1 in Big Sur. I had become “foster mom” to the two dogs of a friend who was going to Brazil for a extended stay. The six-month sojourn turned into nine and that was fine with me! Zeus, a half-wolf/half-shepherd, and Bella, a three-legged Rotty, were my great protectors and wonderful company. Their need for exercise was tremendous, so every day we’d walk the back fire trail down behind, and then under, the bridge and continue on to the beach at Rocky Creek, a very private white sand beach so beautiful I can’t even believe it myself when I think back.

On the path to the beach were a million things to see, including a world of wonderful plants and quite a few animals we cautiously befriended. The most notable of the latter was the mountain lion that lived on the right bank of the steep mountain side, almost directly under my home. He was old and just liked to tease the dogs a little (they would go crazy trying to make it up the embankment to no avail), and lay in the sun in front of his lair. True, he had visible scarring and his boniness truly showed his age, and he really wasn’t a direct threat . . . but I was happy never to do that walk without Zeus and Bella at my side!

But what brought me back to this memory was a taste that reminded me of what grew by the creek, namely some of the best and spiciest watercress I ever tasted in my life. Every day on our way home I would grab ample amounts to make into a salad and give the rest to friends. It was so delicious that people up and down the coast who were fortunate enough to get some were grateful for that tasty gift.

So as I stood in the veggie aisle at Whole Foods and picked a leaf off my bunch of watercress and inhaled that fresh, piquant, almost grassy aroma, it took me back to that time in my life when I was just living in the moment, doing what I wanted to do, paying no attention to how time passes so quickly. I was very much like I am today, only now I’m a little more cognizant of the stealthy speed of time and how it likes to slip away, and I have learned — am still learning — to appreciate every person and every moment in my life at this time on this planet. Peace.

Watercress Salad With Citrus Vinaigrette:
Wash and dry in a salad spinner:
2 Bunches watercress, clean for large stems
1 apple, sliced thin
Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Rotisserie chicken, breast removed and sliced
Maple pecans (Whole Foods), chopped roughly

Citrus Vinaigrette:
Juice of one orange
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
Adobo or Kosher Salt (to taste)
Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
Shake or stir until well-blended and use either individually or toss entire salad.

And as always, Enjoy!!!
©Jennifer Green Alger 2010