The Pleiades are up in the eastern sky at bedtime, chased by Orion still behind the mountains. I am off to bed on this lovely equinox. It’s been raining off and on all day with mesmerizing cloud shows in all directions. I’m grateful to see another autumn roll around.
I enjoyed a conversation with a friend this afternoon as I lay back on the chaise on the patio, and this one little cloud caught my attention because it looked like–well, I won’t say so that you can use your own imagination, but it looked like something mythical to me. It had already lost its precision in the few seconds it took me to open the camera app and snap its picture (top). Then, in the span of just a few minutes it shapeshifted into something else, and then it began to dissipate, and then it was gone… I’m grateful for cloud watching, for having the leisure and presence of mind to do it from time to time, and for how it brings me so vividly in touch with impermanence: the changing nature of everything.
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.
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 email@example.com, with ‘meditation’ in the subject line.
I’m grateful for rainbows.
I’m grateful for another full day of mindfulness, considering my values and trying to put them into action. One of my deepest values is gratitude, of course; another is savoring wholesome food and making the most of the gifts I’m given; yet another is witnessing the beauty of this fragile planet. I’m grateful for its atmosphere, what I can experience of it anyway: the clouds above, aridity and humidity, heat and cool as they fluctuate with day and night; and each breath inhaling air here as pure as anywhere. I’m grateful for a friend to spend these precious days with, and the atmosphere of playful joy she brings to everything we do.
Another evening walk to the west fence, on top of a full and restful day. I’m grateful for this sunset, and hope to savor many more with my little friend. What a dazzling array of clouds and colors. I’m grateful for the support expressed by several readers in response to my post yesterday, one of whom shared a lead to this column about BA.5, the latest Covid variant sweeping the nation. Feeling less alone in my cautious solitude today, thank you! I’m grateful for other ways to connect than in person, and grateful for the vast, magnificent sky and its reassuring perspective.
An old friend stopped by today on his way home to Montana. We sat and talked for hours in the garden, then took a short walk to the canyon. Wren discovered something new and had to put it in her mouth. I was grateful for the opportunity to share a little of my camera knowledge with Gary who is getting to know his new Canon. We were all grateful for a clear day that topped out in the high seventies.
After the walk I tossed together a quick dinner of chicken, kale, potatoes and sweet potatoes with some fresh herbs, dried cherries, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, over basmati rice. Gary was in charge of wine and dessert, and outdid himself with both. He didn’t have to go anywhere to procure two of the best wines in the valley (a 2017 Pinot Noir, and an exquisite 2008 port) having stayed the night with his friends at Alfred Eames Cellars. I was grateful for his generosity and good taste, for his deep listening and insightful conversation, and for his affable consideration in respecting my covid precautions. I was grateful for his warm good company on this cool gorgeous day.