What happens when I get a burst of inspiration to tidy up or reorganize is that I always lose something. Awhile ago I did a kitchen project in which I bought a few new shelf and drawer accessories, and really got the pantry and cabinets in order. Not long after that I was searching for the J&M granulated garlic refill that my neighbors produce for their marvelous garlic grinder. I was sure that I had a packet somewhere, but scoured my spice racks and drawers and couldn’t find it. Some weeks after that, I was searching for the Chaat Masala that my cousin had sent me last winter, and I knew that I had done something sensible with it when I reorganized, but it had vanished. It was reminiscent of Breadgate, but I didn’t get quite so attached to finding it. And a week after that–this morning–I opened a little flat drawer in a lower cabinet looking for something else, and voila! There were the missing spices. I had quite logically put the flat spice bags in there instead of trying to cram them into the racks with the bottles and boxes. I’m grateful for finding lost things, and for being able to laugh about it.
In other food news, all the string beans are tapering off production, while the paprika peppers continue to ripen. Lunch was a simple BLT wrap. Wren and Biko each got a green bean, but Biko turned up his beak and Wren ate them both.
I’m grateful for erosion. Without it, we wouldn’t have canyons. Imagine that. None of the drama, beauty, adventure; no more of the unique habitats, microclimates, and endemic creatures of canyons… like the adorable canyon wren with its unmistakable song (be sure to click ‘Listen’ in the link). No Grand Canyon, no Black Canyon of the Gunnison (pictured above), none of the other fabulous canyons around the world. Not that I’m a huge fan, and not that it will be feasible for much longer, but no hydropower dams which admittedly provide electricity and irrigation water to a lot of humans… Besides forming landscapes, erosion can also benefit the planet by distributing nutrients…
I realize that I’m in over my head, because as I search the internets for benefits of erosion, I find a 10:1 ratio of articles about “why erosion is bad and benefits of erosion control”: Not many specifics about why it’s good. It depends on your point of view, I guess. For certain, erosion doesn’t play nice with human efforts to control the environment, and the more intensely we have tried to shape the planet to our will, the more we have decided that erosion is a problem to be reckoned with rather than accepting it as a natural force of evolution. So I’m gonna be grateful for it anyway, because of canyons.
How am I different from that girl who first walked these woods thirty years ago when I discovered the leading edge of peace? I don’t feel so different. I feel the same, but more subdued, less eager. I feel well within the bounds of peace now, though not yet at the center. How is the land different? How are these woods different? More limbs down, more trees down, more down trees decomposing. Far fewer birds, and bugs. The mosses still green, cactus still spiny. Three paths diverged in the woods and I, I chose to stay in shade. Sun climbing as morning rain dissipates. The scant scent of damp sage, juniper oils rising, soft wet dirt underfoot. I’m grateful for taking time to wander aimlessly until I find myself among unfamiliar trees; and the for finding my way home. This seems as fruitful a way as any to spend an hour this late August day.
I’m grateful for the copious eggplant harvest I’m getting from three little bushes. I sliced yesterday’s four, each about six inches long, into three-eighth inch thick slices, salted them for about an hour, patted dry, breaded, and baked them.
The recipe uses only melted butter instead of egg to dip them in before dredging in a breadcrumb/spice/parmesan mix, then calls for baking rather than frying. It was so simple! As they baked, I made a quick sauce with canned tomatoes from last year, red onion from yesterday, a tiny purple pepper, and fresh basil and oregano. I mix and matched a couple of eggplant parmesan recipes, and essentially made up my own.
Once the sauce was reduced and the eggplant disks baked, I layered them with fresh mozzarella and sauce, topped with parmesan and leftover breadcrumbs, and baked. It was perfect! And I cut it up into portions and froze every bit of it, only tasting the pan scrapings. There are so many eggplants ripening that I’ll make another panful in a couple of weeks and eat at least some of it right away. My strategy is to load up the freezer with plenty of ready to heat meals for when the garden is spent, so I can enjoy and be grateful for summer’s flavors all winter long.
I’m grateful for all the conditions, choices, and help along the way that have led me to a path of Right Livelihood. I’m grateful for the teachers, mentors, and students that have helped me to be able to make my living teaching meditation and mindfulness. I’m grateful for the practices that bring peace and contentment to my life in these troubled times. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share these skills with others as we navigate the accelerating personal, local, and global challenges of the Anthropocene; and grateful to be offering a four-part online course in Meditation Basics starting this Thursday. Email me if you’d like to participate, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘meditation’ in the subject line.
It only took thirty years, but I’m grateful to finally understand that relaxation is a skill that requires cultivation and practice. My particular upbringing (and our culture), for all its privileges, left me midlife in a steady state of constant vigilance and anxiety. Meditation helped open my eyes to a different way to be, and the practice of mindfulness has opened my life to a level of contentment, acceptance, and ease I only dreamed of when I moved here thirty years ago. I still get anxious, but it doesn’t bother me as much; I still feel inclined to control things but I’m not attached to outcomes. Relaxation is so much more complicated than taking a day off and putting up my feet; however, that’s what I did today, and I really enjoyed it.
Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other’s gold.
I’m grateful for a new friend, Hillery McAllister, who came and sang for me and a couple of old friends this evening. Her lyrics reflect the wisdom of mindfulness (that I’ve worked so hard to attain) with a tender sensibility that seems inborn. Her song are by turns insightful, fun, moving, serious, and above all full of love. She’ll be playing at the Sage Alley in Paonia and the Creamery in Hotchkiss in the next few weeks, and I highly recommend catching her show if you can. I’m grateful for the sneak preview she shared with her new friends tonight.
A friend was supposed to come visit tomorrow, and I’ve been really looking forward to it, tidying up the patio and everything. I was so sad when she called today to let me know she’d been potentially exposed to Covid, and tomorrow will be too soon to know whether she’s gotten infected. We had an open-hearted conversation about details and timeline, about risks and possibilities, and all with good cheer and understanding, we concluded it would be best if she doesn’t come. Better safe than sorry! We’ll visit another time, when there are no heavy questions hanging overhead. I am so very grateful for her honesty and integrity in broaching this uncomfortable issue. There are people I know who, given the uncertainties involved, might well have simply made a decision to come anyway without giving me all the information. Where Covid is concerned (as well as with just about any other scenario I can imagine) honesty is the best policy for me. I am always grateful for honesty, even if it means I’m disappointed.
It’s a yawn, not a scream. For a split second it could have gone either way. Just as I was rolling over to get out of bed this morning, Topaz jumped up, almost on top of Wren’s head. Wren didn’t even flinch. The cat lay down with the dog, and there was nothing I could do but lie back and smile with a gentle hand on each of their tummies, grateful for acceptance, for peace in the kingdom, for a good excuse to stay in bed another twenty minutes.
It’s not the same thing to me as it is for those who adhere to the ‘business-as-usual’ paradigm. I’m grateful for progress in slow time. I’m grateful for a slow but steady weed-eater who munches the mallow, bindweed, and purslane at his own pace day after day all summer long, amazingly keeping it in check throughout the yarden.
I’m grateful for the slow progress of peppers, and all the other plants in the garden. They take their time growing roots and leaves, then slowly bring on blossoms and set fruit, and the fruits ripen incrementally day by day until suddenly there’s a flood of them ready to eat, freeze, can.
I’m grateful for the slow progress of the tropical drapes, envisioned as a dream decades ago. I spent years collecting fabrics for them, all cotton, many shades and patterns of greens, a few browns, blues and other colors. I spent months creating the keystone appliqués for each panel… and then I boxed them all up after my mother died and I returned home to a house unlivable that took four months to disinfect. The brick floor was grouted with mouse shit; every flat surface in the house was covered in mouse shit, from the bottoms of the kitchen cabinets to the dresser drawers upstairs. But I digress: that’s another story. Suffice to say I didn’t pull out the drapes or any other creative endeavor for a long time after that, until the stench of Clorox was a distant memory, the brick floor replaced, the dresser burned, and so much more effort expended to reclaim my sacred space.
Life careened onward, and every winter I thought I should get back to those drapes for the sunroom. But I never did, until finally this summer life’s demands slowed down a little bit and I looked to Biko for inspiration on how to move through my days: slow and steady, taking a little bite of this, a little bite of that, as I amble through the hours with peace and ease. Finally accepting my own tortoise pace, that’s what I call progress.
I’m waiting for a lot of things. I’m waiting for these Blot peppers to turn orange and purple instead of chartreuse and purple. I wrote to Baker Creek where I got the seeds to find out how long it takes them to change to their fully ripe color, and was told they will “appear to just sit for several weeks before making their final color change.” I feel like they’ve been sitting like this for more than several weeks. But I’m being patient. I’m waiting for the Sirenevyi sweet peppers also to change from their deep purple to their final ripe deep red, and that seed company rep told me she thinks it’s about three weeks after they color fully purple. But I swear this one pepper has been purple for at least that long. But I’m being patient.
I’m also waiting for Rise Broadband to get its act together and quit constantly dropping internet service here; and waiting for Boost Mobile to get its tower enhancement straightened out so I can get phone service in my house again, which has been out since July 2. I’m waiting for the Division of Vocational Rehab to get me scheduled for an intake session so I can get permanent hearing aids. After trying demos for two weeks, it’s clear to me how much benefit they’ll confer. I’m waiting for an appointment with the only local pulmonologist to try to get my O2 saturation situation figured out. I’ve pursued all these dangling diagnostics diligently as well as the pepper problems in the past few days, and I’m real grateful that I’ve learned to cultivate patience. Even as I wait for solutions, I can enjoy the quiet growth in the garden, the waxing moon rising, crickets singing, reading a good book, a delicious salad, conversations with friends, playing with Wren, a hot shower, and a long nap. It’s not what life throws at or withholds from you, but how you respond to it, that determines your happiness.