Full disclosure: I am still (stuck) in transition. It’s been
almost five years of homeschooling and now it’s all in past tense. I miss the
boys, their pitter patter around the house and the whole bouquet of adventures
collectively known as learning at home. Rainy days make it a bit more evident.
Maybe it’s the strong smell of wet sagebrush. Or the Saskatoon leaves turning.
Yes, it is fall, and the house is silent. A different
reality for me, and a much bigger space that I find myself in. It’s not an
empty nest, really, but a half-day empty nest. For the last two years it’s been
Sasha and I; and the dog, of course. And lots of music; early morning guitar
and afternoon piano.
It is an interesting case of ‘better than smoking’ that has been adopted by many. Vaping, they said, does not present the same risks as cigarettes do. That many e-cigarette brands are developed, and owned, by tobacco giants…well, that’s a tell-tale like no other.
My hands smell of basil and tomatoes. I just picked the first four Roma San Marzano tomatoes from our new garden. It’s all heirloom veggies this year. They are plump and red and pushing into the thick stem with a force that leaves grooves on their sides.
The basket is half-full of potatoes; they’ll be dinner and lunches. The potato berries are hanging bright green, round and tempting (do not, for they are toxic!) as I let my hands crawl deep in the dirt where the yellow and red tubers are. It’s pure reverence, seeking food and then cooking it. The simplicity of a meal cooked from the food you grow, no matter how small the crop… there is a mark left on your heart. It fills you up.
I pick a green taut pepper and fill my hands with more basil;
purple. For a moment, I indulge in remembering my Dad’s hands handing me
tomatoes and carrots to taste; the smell of summer nights when the sun drips
honey-coloured warmth all over the horizon and the garden delivers promises; my
Mom’s delicious light summer meals. Everything else peels off for a few brief
moments and the plenitude of now is beyond rewarding.
I was to write a post about sugar and its ill presence,
about candy bars that are wickedly awaiting by the checkout tills now in bigger
packages. OK, maybe they have been around for a while and I just noticed them.
Thanks to my Mom and that garden magic that started with strawberries, pears
and red currants in the morning and ended with tomatoes and carrots and herbs
of all kinds in the evening, I have a missing sweet tooth. But I did notice the
bars this time. They were big and indecent.
The stats on obesity in North America (and beyond) are grim. 1 in 3 adults in Canada are obese and may require medical assistance to manage the symptoms. The many adverse health effects that obesity causes are daunting to think about. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, arthritis, sleep apnea. Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years though some recent study pointed out to a mild decrease between 2004 and 2014 (I believe mild cannot be a pacifier for the sizeable problem that childhood obesity has become.)
Where are we now? People indulge and lament at the same
time, they eat and overeat because sugar does that to you. Portions grow, processed
foods abound and sugar finds its way into almost everything…Sugar was never a
true need but has become a want of gargantuan proportions. Meanwhile…the good
food grows too. If we want it. In gardens, in pots, in farms from which we buy
at the market…
Food we ferment so the good bugs in it can help our microbiome (the bacteria we carry inside and, on our bodies, a camaraderie that keeps us healthy.) I am experimenting with a new sourdough starter just for fun while a loaf is resting in the fridge for tomorrow’s baking. By the window there are summer pickles and pickled turnips (I know what you might think, but they really are so tasty!).
Hippocrates said that food should be our medicine. And yet… so much of it has become our enemy. Food is never supposed to make one sick; real food that is. Or obese. You eat as your body requires, you move and you celebrate both. Being alive comes with a need to eat, yes, but we need to rewrite the terms. Actually no… we need to remember them.
One tomato bite at a time. Or beans if you prefer. Or a new
potato, cooked to perfection. This kind of indulgency never comes with fear,
but with gratefulness.
Last week on Wednesday evening a 14-year-old lost his life to a suspected overdose. Carson Crimeni was alone as he struggled to stay alive, after being surrounded by a crowd of teenagers, some of whom filmed him and posted the video online. His grandfather found him in ‘very bad shape’ near Walnut Grove skate park in Langley. Carson was still breathing but died later that night in the hospital.
There are also rumours that was he was bullied into taking
the drugs by the same people who then documented the aftermath. His cell phone was
found in a nearby garbage can.
I was driving through the downtown, down 4th Avenue when I got startled by yelling and hand-waving coming out of a car parked on the side of the street. A bunch of teenage girls in an SUV were trying to get people to let them join traffic, making silly faces and acting in a rather annoying manner.
have been too easy to roll my eyes and say ‘Ugh, teenagers…’. After all, I have
seen grownups acting in awful ways while in traffic or making rookie mistakes.
No matter how many times I see it, I never get tired of it: The emerald sheen of the surrounding hills this time of the year, the play of cloud shadows and sunshine which makes the grasslands look as if you’re gliding over in a boat and looking down at the sun-kissed grassy bottom of a shallow creek. It’s magical, there is no other way to put it.
I am nursing a recently injured knee so I am cautious while
hiking but there is too much beauty to miss if I hold back. After a few days of
taking it easy, I venture up the trails again in my favourite park of all.
If you were to sit with us for dinner on any given night, you would be privy to a recurrent conversation that surfaces whenever social issues such as poverty, violation of human rights and modern-day slavery, refugee and climate change-caused disasters are brought to our attention via news, books or any other sources: why don’t wealthy people help more? And why do some choose to act in ways that take away from those who have little to begin with?
It’s disheartening to have to ask those questions.