Look Out Your Window Now and Then
May 27, 2008
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. First time I slowed down all week, I think, and a blessed thing that was. I don't know about you and yours, but in this house May is always a month when one seeks clarity and perspective in order to maintain a sense of sanity. With three kids wrapping up the school year, there are enough plays and award ceremonies and ball games and field trips and registrations and sack lunches and goodbyes to launch one into orbit.
I took off for a bookstore on Sunday afternoon just to get away from it all. Mr. Sundberg was on Day Three of a four-day break, and it was raining, and the kids were all-too-happy to head to the movie theater with him and then back home to finalize class projects and water the basil and oregano they planted for me for Mother's Day and gaze out the windows at the rain. Little did they or I know that perspective was on its way in the brutal form of a tornado which, somewhere around 5:30 Sunday afternoon, reached down from the sky and — for 30 some seconds —destroyed over 50 homes and caused the evacuation of between 350 and 400 homes in a little Minnesota town not far from ours. Injured people, too, and set relatives to searching for people not accounted for.
Funny creatures, humans are. We get so caught up in the chaff of the everyday, the small and simple challenges we often choose to see as stumbling blocks rather than stepping stones. We forget to pick up the milk. The car is in need of new brake pads. Going to have to file an extension again this year for those taxes. There's not a rabbit costume to be found and the play is next week. Can't get in at the dentist until the end of the month, and where on earth did the umbrellas disappear to? We had three, for God's sake. And why is the dryer making that thumping sound? And is there an easier way to fix the pocket door than taking out the wall? Why did you wear your good jeans to play ball? This humidity is destroying my hair. Baked potatoes AGAIN? Why does everybody and their mother have to drop by when we're trying to have some peace and quiet? I hate the heat. I hate the cold. Can't those kids stop their bickering for one day?
It's a bit embarrassing when you think about it. How the world throws ordinary life at you and instead of gathering it up in your arms you let it smack you upside the head. Which is why it's good to look out your window now and then. There's a lot to see. Cyclones and earthquakes, a shortage of clean water here and not enough blankets there. Strange strains of the flu and shark attacks and not enough rice to go 'round and a neighborhood wiped out in seconds. Perspective is what it is, and a boatload of it.
After I went up to kiss the kids last night, I did some laundry and washed the dishes and baked a loaf of fresh bread. Felt like being quiet for a while. Still do.
I don't share many recipes like this one, and I promise to share more. The kids never liked onions much, but as they get older, well, you never know. I've always had an affinity for the name, "Sweet Vidalia." This recipe makes good use of this onion, the world's sweetest.
The Freshest Salad Ever
1 bulb fennel
1 Sweet Vidalia onion
Cut up just the white part of the fennel as you would celery, in half moons, and place in a medium-sized bowl.
Cut up a Sweet Vidalia onion (use half as much onion as fennel, about 1/3 cup). Mix with the fennel.
Peel two oranges, removing as much of the soft, white pith as you can. With a small knife, section off slices over the bowl, letting the juices drip in.
Add salt and pepper if you wish, though it really doesn't need it.
Mix and serve with light summer lunches.