C.M. Breaks It Down | Springtime Artichokes

C.M. and Margaret Roben

Keep bubbling on. Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour


The aftermath of grown children and their offsprings’ departure is one of deep melancholy and resurrection. To get over it, I review our past days together while doing something quiet and then ascend the steps to collect and sort stuff left behind in the guest quarters.

Bringing order to remnants is a lonesome downer. A scene of pretend here, a tiny sox there, a vine stripped of it leaves over yonder, a pile of sand stashed in secret….

While folding a duvet I hear a clunk, a wooden knife has fallen from its hidey-hole. Brightly painted, the weapon is a popular item for cooking pretend dinners or defending a sister’s honor.

Robert’s mother tells me that in the unfolding of his personality, he likes to hide things that he treasures. This is familiar terrain for me too as I like to squirrel things away for future examination and possible revelation. Post Easter, I reclaim a family story that shows up for me like Glinda, the good witch.

My Grandfather C.M. Griffith was a stern character during his early years, but by the time I was born, he had soften and learned many things about spirit that I found at first intriguing and later profound.

A quivering of the nervous system enveloped me on that day, when at age 35, I rushed to be with him after the death of his daughter and my mother. He was 97 years old.

Stripped of all that youth had provided, he peered out at me from inside, somewhere close to the heart of things and said, “When I got the call that MY mother died: I went to the hall closet to get my winter coat.”

A tear rolled down his rumpled cheek. “When I opened the door, moths fluttered out like snow.” His coat had been consumed.

With the story of my great grandmother’s death, I cried for our loses and for the living it portends. Granddaddy’s safety net of a coat, had been feeding transformation for new life. The possibilities fulfilled for the man he became would be surprising in their wing-ed number.

His sensate Easter story has given me myth for moving on. As Joseph Campbell said, “The adventure that the hero is ready for, is the adventure he gets. The adventure evokes a quality of his character that he doesn’t know he possesses.”

At Granddaddy’s behest, I will possess the future without fear. After all, our mettle is at stake and if I am “worth a dern,” as he was fond of saying, I am obliged to gift younger ones who scramble for answers with a healthy regard for all that unfolds.

Besides, they are watching. I’ll rest in the mystery and revere the chain of life. Praise be to C.M. – one antecedent’s story is his spin-off’s benediction.

Spring Artichoke

When I was a girl, there was a landscaping company located between Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee. Allison Donnelly, a friend of mine from Palmer Elementary, had a family association with that particular business.

On the Friday nights that I spent at her house, her family would serve steak from the grill and artichokes with butter and lemon sauce. She said this was tradition.

These springtime days, I wonder where Allison is and if it was the Donnelly’s heighten sense of the plant world that made way for regular artichoke dining during the 1960s.

Certainly it has a lasting effect on me and a fun fact is the artichoke’s heart, which must be sought in order to consume, stands for hope of a prosperous future.

Every spring when California artichokes are in season, we eat our plenty. I still use the preparation that my mother found in a magazine back in the day:

Select a pot large enough to hold all the artichokes that you are going to boil. Half fill with water and set on high heat.

Rinse artichokes and slice stem off flush with base so artichoke can stand up. Rub cut area with lemon. Slice off top of each artichoke and rub with lemon. You may snip off top of each leaf, if you choose.

Place artichoke on base side in boiling water. Turn heat down and weight tops of artichokes with pot lid that keep them submerged.

Simmer for 20 to 40 minutes until the base can be pierced with knifepoint.

Remove artichoke and turn upside down in colander to drain.

Serve with sauces. Dip leaves in sauce and scrap meat off leaves with teeth. When you arrive at the heart of things, dig out the thistle part, and cut the heart into pieces and dip into sauce.



1/4 olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
4 teaspoons of fresh thyme or 2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup butter, unsalted
salt & pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Then add lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper.


3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons mayonaise
2 tablespoons water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt and pepper

With an immersion blender, blend till smooth. Then salt and pepper.

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