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Remembering When and Living in the Now

It seems so long ago, those days when a friend would ring and ask if I had time to meet up for a coffee or a quick lunch. During the low points of this past winter, I vowed I would never be too busy to drop everything and run off to meet someone. I used to love being with those I love best, catching up, sharing our plans and dreams, hopes and worries. Of course, reality hits hard and I am often confronted with conflict: the joy of actually being with someone versus the effort to retool my business to these times.

If I am honest, I would say that the coffee is better at my house and so is the food. My husband and I discuss our work over lunch to catch each other up since we have very different roles in our business. But mostly in my day, I am alone, at my computer, in the bakery, in the kitchen. Classes continue on Zoom, with me talking to the back of my phone; my poor husband working as camera man as I cook. My worries are magnified as the pandemic drags on and my dreams are stalled.

I do have faith though. Recently, six friends, all of us like family and all of us vaccinated got together for dinner at one of our homes. It felt like Christmas. All of us cooking together; laughing; wine flowing. We were unmasked and unafraid…for the first time in 13 months. It was what once had been a typical weekend night, us all together, cooking, making plans, sharing our lives. It was probably not as life changing as it felt, but we all left feeling filled with feelings that had been on hold for a very long time.

I look out my window and the tulips are past their full bloom; my wisteria is heavy with purple blossoms, my perennials beginning to show signs of what they will be, come summer.

Then there’s the food. Asparagus, with its tender stalks the pale green of spring, is a sure sign of hope for me. Grilled for a salad or served with lightly steamed fresh spring peas; grated with lemon zest and olive oil for a spring pasta dish that has no peer, asparagus guides us to summer with its delicate flavor, readying us for the stronger weather…and tastes of summer.

And as though to remind us that our livers are coming to life just as the plants of the season, tender bitter greens come into season just begging us to enjoy them in all their astringent glory. They help us to acclimate to the warmer days by relieving some of the stress on our poor overworked and underpaid livers by helping aid in metabolism. Broccoli rabe, baby arugula, endive, watercress all serve to remind us that spring is a time to refresh our bodies and our lives.

A creamy risotto with fresh peas and diced baby zucchini is so rich and delicate, it whispers all the love notes of spring.

With farm markets reopening and foods like fresh fava beans, sprouts, baby vegetables, tender berries and delicate lettuces and greens filling the bins and our senses, how can we not have hope?

Maybe this spring and summer will see the end of the pandemic that has destroyed lives and spirits. Maybe we will see a bit less gun violence and loss of life. Maybe we will see kindness spring from all of this tragedy. I feel battered, but grateful and wiser for sure…and lighter knowing this too will pass and life will go on.

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