Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
This afternoon, outside my window, there is the bluest sky & only a wisp of cloud, cashew-shaped, rushing nowhere. Barefoot, I trot to the mailbox in my winey sweater & the slip I slept in, leg exposing & breezy. How many birds are singing today, "The sun! The sun! How long have you been sleeping for? You are washing all over me & boy, am I warm..."? Oh, & the drooping snowdrops I mistake for little white crocus heads peeking through the soggy earth & lacey remains of snow. Walking through mud like molasses all over my boots & the paws of Nicola's dogs. I had to take my scarf off. Some thing is hovering around us all, some thing unassuming & cleansing. It is Spring. We are coming upon a transition from the short shivering days into a time of thawing & growing, a "springing of the leaf".
As the ground is beginning to wake from the inside out, we find this happening to ourselves also. Can you feel your roots uncurling & your stems spiraling towards the warming, mother sun? We have been blanket bundled for months. I have been wearing three dresses, an oversized flannel, at least one sweater, thermal leggings, high woolen socks, lined boots, several scarves & a hat that at one time belonged to my neighbor, all at once & since Novemeber.
The air is beckoning us, "Be as light & free as you can see in me!" I desired fruits all day, the soft juice of them & their uplifting energy. We walked for an hour, the woods were full of little walkers & Nicola keeps reminding me that we do not live too far from the beach. The turn of the earth, the return to lengthy days, the sun taking the place of all our artificial blankets, that mud the flower heads have to poke through! Rainage is bursting at the seams. My sister is flitting around like a fairy becoming more & more in love with that boy. That constant laughing I hear on the wind. Joanna Newsom's new album.
Rejoice in the rejuvenation! Get yourself to some woodlands, or the scents of them at least: juniper or pine or cedar or cardamom. Get citric with the grapefruits & limes & mandarins. Whirl around in calendula & neroli. The hyacinth girl fresh out of the rain. Dandelion tonic, roots & all, good for wishes & detoxifying the liver after those nights made long with wiskey & heavy foods. How many layers have you been buried beneath this past winter season? Finish off the dregs of your hibernation, the first day of a new season is in a few weeks, my friends. Soon will be the bustle of blossoms & brooming for Spring Cleaning.
In the midst of all this reverberation, there is a lurking. Remember that April showers bring May flowers. Along with the temperatures fluctuating, we are just waking up & susceptible to all the elements, "... true spring fever occurs when a cool spell is followed by sudden warmth & our bodies are slow to catch up". We must wear our rainboots even when dancing in daffodils. So, if you are feeling a little under the weather, take this potion from my medicine cabinet to keep the spring fever at bay, full of warmers (ginger & cinnamon) & immunity stimulators (ginseng) & godly nectars (pear!). So delicious you won't need that spoonful of sugar.
Umbrella & Wellies Elixir
(makes 1 quart)
3 cups apple juice concentrate, unsweetened (100% juice), or juice some yrselves!
3 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
20 drops Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) tincture
Cut pears into quarters & combine with apple juice, ginger, cinnamon, & nutmeg in a blender. Blend until smooth; chill. Pour into glass, add 20 drops of Siberian ginseng tincture, stir. Drink 3 times daily. *This type of ginseng is a good, but slow worker. If you are ailing, take this in your drink for 3 weeks, rest for 1 week, then repeat if necessary.*
Ps/ If you gave up Siberian ginseng for Lent & need that special stimulation, I suggest adding some moonly nectars (wiskey!) to taste.
When Adrian and I started cooking together, we were eighteen, and I realized the very first day I must have never eaten breakfast before. Every memory was an empty, extending space, and I was pleased, that being a time in which I very much wanted to follow her lead. So we made oats with fried eggs on top, which I had never had, even if it turns out I had sat down to breakfast before. While we cooked, she told me things about food, things I may have found out either way, but who's counting. She told me. Showed me flaxseed, kept her spices in a cloth-bound box under the sink, used turmeric all the time, and to this day I've never told her I think it's the blandest spice. I don't think I thought of it till I moved back to Baltimore.
Even now, after a year's worth of ardent, solitary cooking, I watch for cues. When I visited her in Brooklyn, she had gotten a mortar and pestle, so I thought of the thousand reasons I needed one. This is a good reason, the kind that comes after you've grown accustomed (read: weary) to the custard of winter, breakfasts of pumpkin and bananas:
Spice Cabinet Oats-and-Eggs
-1/2 cup rolled oats
-1-2 tbsp ground flaxseed
-1 cup unsweetened hemp milk
-1-2 tbsp almond butter (to taste)
-Dash each ground nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves
-1 cardamom pod
Cook the oats in hemp milk on medium heat with all spices except cardamom. Remove from heat when finished.
Stir in almond butter and flaxseed.
Grind cardamom pod and stir into oats. Add more hemp milk if necessary
Serve with eggs on top--any kind of eggs will do, but it's nice if they're cold and the oatmeal's hot, or you have an orange to eat with everything. It's best of all if they're part of a leftover omelet, and the man who brought it to you at the restaurant slipped you his phone number. Not because you're going to call, but because (Adrian told me one day two springs ago, a bad day for her & so I left flowers on her bed) "It's so nice, being seen."
Monday, March 8, 2010
All winter long we took westbound busses downtown to play folk songs on freezing street corners. We were The Messengers: Austin, Peter, Ezra and I. It started when they showed up in front of the office building I worked in at the time. They were wearing matching dark glasses, harp racks, guitars. They stood on the sidewalk outside my window singing “Gloria” until my boss told me to make them stop. Running to the door, I bumped into a table of merchandise and a large bruise spread instantly across my thigh. When I reached the sidewalk, I lifted my hand to silence them, but Peter instead handed me a tambourine. It was a sunny November afternoon, and the whirring cars on
I hit the tambourine against my leg and started dancing. They asked me if I wanted to go out and play with them that night. The bruise from the merchandise table grew and deepened. It happened to lie in the exact spot where the tambourine hit for the next few months, and thus never fully healed.
We played for quarters and dollar bills until midnight, picked up transient back-up singers, saw players, Coke-bottle tubas. We gathered crowds, crud, displaced street kids who told us we were taking their spanging spot. It was freezing all winter. We’d play until we couldn’t feel our fingers: “Sister Ray,” “House of the Rising Sun,” everything by Brian Jonestown Massacre. At midnight we’d stop by Voodoo Doughnuts under the
We were The Messengers. Ezra’s family was Jewish. Every second Friday that winter his mother would serve a Sabbath meal after we got home from busking. She would wait for us, sometimes until eleven. We’d come through the door clanging, a case full of cash, and then join them in the dining room: The Messengers and Ezra’s family. His mother cooked four-course meals: stuffed grape leaves, homemade yogurt, empanadas, winter greens, challah, olive tapanade, vegan white cake with black coffee. The meal would last two, three hours, and we, The Messengers, would make doe eyes at each other from our seats wondering if we’d ever been so happy.
At a later date, on the couch in the coffee shop, I said to
You have a few great nights with a group of people, and the following few months you spend together are in pursuit of those nights. Often, and thankfully, they are usually the only ones you remember. Sometimes you stay together just because of those two or three nights, waiting for a new event to deliver the old feeling. New isn't always bad, but we often miss it being so fixated on one previous moment. We miss it, possibly forgoing a great thing that could have been. Or maybe that was it, and it never happens again.
The last time we played together, it was just beginning to get warm. All winter long, we had thought, if winter can be so sweet, just wait until summertime! It turned out that the prospect of sun was deceptive. As winter receded, so did our attention spans, and so did the buckets of doughnuts and The Sabbath and the holiness and the homemade challah. It was late May. I was seventeen-years-old. We played for a couple of sleepy hours on the bank of a vintage clothing store in a nice neighborhood. We made three dollars, and then wandered around a chain supermarket and spent the money on pink-frosted sugar cookies, hot jojos, deep-fried jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese from the deli counter. After eating all of it around a picnic table at a neighboring park, we felt sick.