On Saturday, I noticed a scattering of twigs and leaves on the patio near one of the pergola posts. On Sunday, the post was crowned by a nest. Then, the nest was filled with Mrs. Robin.
Mrs. Robin and I keep an eye on each other. She works long hours, breaking to run errands, grab a drink or pick up a fresh worm snack. Back at the nest, she looks things over and then settles down, gazing out with a look that's half-enthralled, half-bored. My routine is about the same as hers, only at ground level, and requires a car.
We both like the herb garden. She pokes around for a berry or bug. I stop by to snip off a bit of basil, thyme, mint or oregano. I like to tuck the leaves into salad or pasta or — curiously — ripe melon.
It's not a combination I would have expected to work. But sun-warmed cantaloupe peppered with pepper and brightened with basil is surprisingly refreshing. I'm thinking Mrs. Robin, with her taste for the unexpected, would approve.
Prep: 10 minutes
1 cantaloupe, perfectly ripe, chilled
1 small bunch fresh basil
Quarter the melon, north to south. Trim away rind. Slice — thin or thick — crosswise. Fan melon slices on to 4 plates.
Tuck in basil leaves, whole or torn, here and there. Weird, right? Grind on pepper, generously. Weirder, right?
Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, if you like. Strangely delicious, isn't it?
Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.