It's noon on the first dry day in a while. I've unpacked my backpack, full of flavors: red San Marzanos, grown in a greenhouse somewhere; a bright yellow lemon; one white and red-marbled strip of bacon; a golden-brown shallot, the purple flesh tucked beneath the papery outer layer; a jar of artichokes hearts, small and dainty; and cream-colored clams. A demi baguette and a bottle of dry Sauvignon Blanc that the wine steward recommended.
The first dry day in days. Kiddo was so wrapped up in his Minecraft conversation that we made it halfway down the block with his helmet on before we realized he'd left the scooter at home. It is pleasant, overcast, a little warmer. After saying goodbye to him at school, I walked with another mom back to her house, on my way to the store. Needing some time to think, I chose the path of greater length, walking the long way around the neighborhood, daydreaming of some sort of comfort food. The clams seemed just the thing, succulent and rich, with the bacon and shallots to start the flavor, the wine and parsley, tomatoes and some thinly-sliced carrots to add color and richness.
I had what I can only call "mom-somnia" last night. Evening outings always throw off my rhythm and last night's PTA meeting was mentally a bit rigorous. So many things are changing in our school district and the implications are deep, serious, and unknown. I'm on the planning committee for a school event for next week which has a lot of moving parts --and the parts keep shifting. My husband's job is changing and will be more demanding in the evenings as well. Plus a few more changes will be happening in the coming months... somehow all of this, even the good parts, kept me awake.
Read. Lie awake. 12 midnight. Go downstairs like a whisper ghost, have a finger of cognac and write for an hour, then go back up and lie in bed until 2. 2. When I finally fell asleep.
This morning I felt crisp, tired, but not unhappy. When Kiddo said he would 'let me chill out' with my cup of tea and just staring like a zombie at my laptop, I felt grateful. It was a kind gesture. Our morning progressed quietly, kindly. We paced ourselves. The walk around the neighborhood led me to a poem about how God doesn't perform miracles any more because burning bushes bring the fire department, investigations, and some poor soul will be blamed for arson. I see the humor in this and smile to myself-- the idea that not performing miracles is, in itself, a benevolent act, is sweet and understanding. You don't have to feel one way or the other about deities or theology to see the point of the poem. Savoring these words, the walk took me around to the store, where I purchased those delicious, vibrant foods.
It was when I tucked my light raincoat into my backpack around the eggs, the palmier cookies for Kiddo and friends, that I felt such a sense of tenderness. I did this packing lightly, ensuring nothing would be crushed, and felt the slow care of my hands, my whole being wanting to ensure that the fragile items would be loved and respected. Cooks talk about respecting the food one makes. It was also respect for the moment-- my moment-- of tiredness and peace and moving slowly, contemplating my nourishment and world in a loving way. Carefully hoisting my backpack onto my shoulders, I smiled at Natalie, who works there, ringing up the groceries and checking in with her eldest customers. "Oh, don't you look nice! Do you have an appointment today?" she asks a white-haired woman. Her question was genuine, a moment of kindness and connection.
There is no deeper message to this missive. I do not entreat you, dear reader, to be kind to others-- I think that goes without saying. What I do know is that, in being kind to myself, going slowly, I was also able to enjoy and appreciate things with a softness I might not have had if I hadn't taken the slow walk. Listen to what you need. Be loving to yourself when you are running on fumes. Don't fight it. Just let yourself be and listen.... you will know what to do.