Distance learning, with spirit! Whether online, or in line to pick up text books, Maria is keeping to classic school club actitivies and themes, like Witch Thursday, the day created to remind everyone to dress as you feel. We love this school. We love the integrity and intelligence, the spirit of the students who are there, who have come through there.
First cooking assignment for Culinary Arts: Scones. And Maria chose to bake cranberry-orange scones. I think it's all about quick breads, because biscuits and pancakes, then banana bread, are coming up. May I, briefly, wax poetic? Maria's scones came out pretty, appealingly pretty. By the time I got to sit down and enjoy my serving, I decided to make it a mindful, special moment. I made coffee, I brought out a pretty plate, I sat at the dining table. I am so glad I was intentional, because her baking was transportive. Each bite made me recall the pleasure of cafes, of going out, of being at a bakery, some place you find at the end of the day, on a tree-lined street. My thoughts wandered. I thought of novels, heroines, linen aprons, garden kitchens, the waning light of a softening summer, the painstaking saving of fruits, nuts, spices, in preparation of holidays, Winter. Maria's baking made me feel hopeful, thankful, sated. That's a lot to derive from a scone, but it was a very pretty scone, and delicious, too, and I am reminded of all the good that comes of slowing down, being mindful. It's a gift to take notice, to enjoy all the layers.
Fond as I am of the phases of the moon, tracking Venus and Mars, finding Vega and Arcturus in the night sky, and all things Fall, we don't get much of that classic autumnal, seasonal stuff. In fact, the only waning light is from smoke blotting out the sun. The world is murky, hazed, like we are walking through an Instagram filter. And hot. I resolve to complain as little as possible about heat, but when it's record breaking, when we hover around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, all bets are off: It felt otherworldly, still, and foreboding, like the sun would refuse to leave the sky, and hold us, fevered, and dry, without pity. Yeah, that hot.
And, count us safe from the Valley Fire, which is burning south and east of here. But my brother and sister-in-law are in the evacuation warning area, and have been packed to go since Sunday. I was deteremined to write one post without getting "political," but. Can we please please please look into climate change, consider the possibility that these record breaking events are not normal? And if they are not normal, if disasters, and pandemics, and global unrest are making everyone uncomfortable, wouldn't it make simple sense to be concerned, to want to make changes, to intervene? The heat, the damages... they are too real to be "fake news."
The very next day, when temperatures dropped to the 80s, we were so relieved! Even 80s would be considered hot, here, but I felt so cooled, I baked quiches! And Maria baked the biscuits she was assigned. And about those biscuits... those were poetry worthy, too. We ate them with butter and honey, and that was dinner. I love how they came out, baked on our comal, and we thanked Nicki Salcedo for the inspiration, and biscuit tips. And someone else that's inspired me, again, Kristina Gill. In her stories she links to fabulous food posts, and I am struck by how beautiful food is, how artful we can make it. Being mindful of the scarcity of food for many people, I tend to hold back with food posts (I mean, compared with how I could go!) Recognizing hunger, and advocating for solutions, matters, of course. And appreciating matters, paying attention to our food, on many levels, lends another layer to the experience of eating. Kristina Gill has reminded me to take notice of how we can lend all of our senses to the experience of getting fed, so it's not only nutritious, and filling, but makes us smile, brings us connection to the earth, to traditions, and our culture, others' cultures. In making food beautiful, we slow down and make a celebration of the gifts we are about to receive, and that is nourishing to the soul. By making even simple fair special, we are reminding ourselves of the goodness we have to enjoy. Beautiful food, slow food, growing food, preparing food, sharing food... these are gifts.
Back in April, we were low on some foods, and concerened about when and how we would replenish our supplies. I planted onion scraps, and potatoes, we started more garden beds, and added new chicks to our flock, and I thought of later. Later, when we might harvest onions, when we would have enough chard, more eggs, some fruit, for us, for our neighbors, for sharing. We weren't desperate or without options, but we were mindful, we were thankful, and we wanted to feel more secure, more capable. I recalled all of these feelings and ideas, and the work we did, as I made the quiches... I sliced the onions that were grown from sprouting ends, we still have chard, the zucchini is plentiful, the pullets are laying, as the old girls slip into their golden years, retire. Thankfully, with a sense of relief, I made our lunch, and I sighed. I'd like everyone to have fresh produce, and a cutting board, a good pan, cooking oil, and time to make a pretty meal, to sit down, eat slowly. Good things are better shared. I love recognizing how healthful and soul-lifting it is to see beautiful food, to put as much care and love into what we make as we possibly can, and share as much as we possibly can, too.
This morning, another gift... Dew! Almost rain. I can scarcely believe my senses, but it smells like rain, like the dry earth is taking a sip. The ground is damp. It's almost rain, and better than a mere mist. More would be wonderful. More rain, mist, dampness, all up and down the western coast, please.