Summer storms are a new indulgence for me. Cozied in a reading chair by our front window I tend to my journal and a cup of cold tea. Torrents of rain bear down on the front walk and I visualize a release of stagnant memories, ideas, and beliefs being carried down the road with the leaves to the storm drain. Shaun is in the Domincan Republic, filming, and I sit alone, silent at my perch, letting the explosive energy of the passing thunder reverberate in my bones.
Thoughts pass, yet nothing lingers. I experience an excess of calm amidst the raging weather and am reminded, again, of my smallness. I am a speck of matter and energy in this massive, bursting earthplane of people, places and dreams.
During my months living at sea, I used to spend hours gazing upon the open ocean, begging the waves to teach me their humility and sense of time. Years later, in this chair and the throes of a summer storm, no begging is needed. I am both humbled and grateful for the gift of an unrushed hour to my afternoon. Tears form, then a smile. For the first time in a long time, I actually believe it will all be okay.
Tomorrow my morning walk will smell of fresh ideas, resolve, and renewed opportunity, the rain will have cleansed the world of todays mistakes and made space for all that can, and will, come next. Exhale.
// july 6
Cherry, Lentil, Fennel Salad
1/2 lb red cherries, pitted and halved
1 small bulbs fennel, shaved
4-5 small red beets, chopped
1/2 cup de puy lentils
2 giant handfuls of baby greens (kale, chard, etc.)
1 ripe avocado
1 tbsp fresh basil, julienned
1 tbsp fresh mint, julienned
1/4 cup shallot, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
salt/pepper on hand
I’m going to make these instructions short and sweet, a salad is as salad does folks. Boil lentils for 20 minutes. Remove. Rinse. Cool. Set aside. Steam sliced beets for 10 minutes. Rinse. Cool. Set aside. Finely slice fennel and place in a small bowl. Douse with salt and massage with hands. Let sit for 10 minutes, rinse, drain. Pit cherries. Set aside. Toast pumpkin seed under the broiler for 2-5 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine basil, mint, shallot, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir. Pile in cherries, softened fennel, steamed beets, and lentils. Stir to coat. Cut in Avocado. Toss with greens (probably should use your hands to get everything good and mixed/coated). Top with seeds, salt, pepper.
** Sharley and Caroline, this one’s for you ladies. Thank you for sharing your kindness and light with me last week.
Fall arrives in fits and starts in here in San Diego. Friday was a tease with its grey skies, cool breeze, and invitation for thinking books and black coffee. Sun, shorts, and summer squash on Sunday — September keeps us wanting. My creative process follows suit. Ideas come and go, passing through me before I have time to bottle them up or at least find a working pen.
I bought a sketchbook at the end of summer, it was on sale at the art store and at the time I had these great intentions of writing everyday; “creativity for creativity’s sake.” I was inspired by a recent feature Shaun and I had collaborated on about a new friend, colleague who encouraged “artists need to be creative for the sake of it, not for work, but because it’s who you are.” Agree. So does Julia Cameron, who insists on a practice of writing every day, among other things, to “recover creativity, as it is the natural expression and direction of life.” It’s been three weeks, and that sketchbook is barely filled with the caught inspiration, captured realizations, or daydreams like I envisioned.
I love, and fully one hundred and fifty percent believe in the practice of “creativity for creativity’s sake,” but as Elizabeth Gilbert, writer, says in her ’09 TED Talk, it can’t always account for “the utter maddening capriciousness of the creative process, a process which everyone who has ever tried to make something knows doesn’t behave rationally, and sometimes seems downright paranormal.”
Case in point, Shaun and I saw Bon Iver this past weekend, and in the middle of a solo set the creative rain comes like a flood and I have nowhere to put it in the dark, musty auditorium. Vernon is singing, I am completely in the present moment, engrossed, emotional, and the ideas come a’knocking. WTF, creativity? I needed you a few days ago. I can’t deal with you right now.
We have to be okay with that. Part of being creative for creativity’s sake is not documenting it, saving it for later, making it a practice. Let it just be. A thing that comes, at random, irrationally, and reminds you that it’s there and that it will come back because it always does . Let the creativity just be there for the sake of it, even if it’s stuck in your head or heart and can’t be rendered “useful.” Perhaps this is the extended meaning of being creative for the sake of it. Feeling it. Enjoying it. Not having to go anywhere with it. Just letting it affirm our sometimes maddening humanness.
Fall will come in San Diego. Eventually. It will fake us out for a while. And it may feel inconvenient when it does make an appearance because we’ll be wearing shorts and sandals. But heck. Let it come when it does. The sketchbook will be there, and if it doesn’t get love everyday, there will be times later when I’ll be glad I have all the extra pages. I think. I hope.
2 cups short-grain brown rice, cooked with a tsp of olive oil
Soak dry beans overnight, and cook for 45 minutes before you plan to get started. Alternatively, you could use canned, but I discourage it – BPA, the same stuff we’re on the watch for in water bottles is found in tin can linings. While you’re cooking the beans, put on the rice too.
Okay, now we can start. Whist the tamarind with 3 tbsp of water until it dissolves into a paste. Set aside. Place chopped onion and caraway seeds in a large pan with olive oil and saute on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, water, honey, beans, ground coriander, cumin, chard, and a bit of salt and pepper. Strain the tamarind water through a fine mesh strainer over the pan. Bring to a slight boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes. If you like a more soup-y stew, add a bit more water. If you prefer a thicker stew, remove the lid to let the steam evaporate. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When you’re ready to serve, spoon rice into a shallow bowl, creating crater in the center. Put a ladle or two over the rice, and top with fresh cilantro.