5.31.2011

Goodbye my May

I've always been really thankful for rhythms, cycles, patterns.  I am particularly thankful that certain things come to an end, while others start anew.  

I am always glad when Monday comes to a close.  
Happy to say goodbye to February.
I look forward to fall all year but I do enjoy spring - the harvest of my favorite vegetables.  I love that here in Chicago our seasons come to an end - we truly experience the fullness of each season (at times too fully).  

As John Steinbeck says,  "For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?"

After all, the end of one thing is really just the beginning of another.

In this city of great wind, May is perhaps the most unpredictable month of them all.  At this point, we are way over winter and biting at the heals of summer.  I think, all too easily, the month of May gets brushed aside in our rush to be done with the snap of winter - school kids and gardeners alike squirm in their seats, antsy and anxious.  

I do not love May like I love October - that is a special kind of love.
I do love May for it's stately asparagus, the royal radish, and the first wispy leaves of lettuce.  But mostly, I love May for its morels.
The 'shroom of all 'shrooms.  The great morel.

Maybe it has something to do with its distinctive honeycomb-like appearance (you know how I feel about honey).  Maybe just for the joy of the hunt and the glee of discovery.

The first year I embarked on the hunt for morels, we found five little longneck morels.  I cupped them in my hands gingerly, admiring our treasure and spreading as many spores as possible with my mesh bag, thinking ahead to the next year's brief season.


We found but one lonely little morel this year after hours of hunting.  


It was worth it.  I love pulling on my Hunter boots to muck about the forest for a while with a few fellow 'shroomers.  It makes my May.  I guess what makes a morel a morel is its dubious nature.  Some seasons are better than others.  Some years you find many and some years you find none.  

I suppose you could say that about many things.  I reckon that's why I'm so fond of these natural rhythms to begin with.  Some days are left so lacking that the fall of darkness couldn't come soon enough.  Other days are so full, you need another one to capture it all.  They say we are "creatures of habit."  I wonder if we are more aptly considered rhythmic beings.  It's not so much about habit, but more about ritual, cadence, flow.  We have a physical rhythm built into our bodies:  a pulse.  It seems natural, then, that the rest of our lives would be inherently poised around the rhythms of our world.

We were created within these rhythms.  Light/dark.  Life/death.  Day/night.  Work/rest.  7 days.  And it was good.

5.26.2011

The wonder of skinny love

This city has been rainy and cold all week - it's felt more like the Pacific Northwest than the Great Plains.  I've been aching to sit down with the Times or "Travels with Charley" while the colors of the world blurr in the drizzle.  But alas, cafe lattes and vanilla cardamom scones have kept me waiting - just trying to fuel the cogs of this grand metropolis - one pastry at a time.

You ever have one of those perfect moments, where it seems everything is lined up just as it should be?

It's incredibly brief and fleeting, and if you're not quiet and attentive, you'll miss it all together.  But for just a few seconds, it all seems right - just so.  It's been a while.  I feel like I've been bustling and schlepping about too much to notice these portholes of grace. Amidst the grey rainfall of this week, the other day I slowed down just enough to catch a glimpse - giving my spirit the spur it needed in that moment.  I think it may have had something to do with the patisserie's steaming windows that reminded me of Bruges and Bon Iver's "Skinny Love."  

Usually in that instant you have but a moment to recognize it's presence and be grateful, because like the day's first light, it's gone before you can take a breath.

So, I bid you a flicker of wonder.  Come on then skinny love.

5.23.2011

Why being wrong is good for you

Sometimes, there is a certain rightness to our wrongness.
Other times, there is a certain wrongness to our rightness.

Right?

Let's face it.  It's way more fun when you're right.  We walk around all day thinking we are right about everything.  Our fashion choice.  Our food.  Our job decisions.  Our parenting.  Our very sense of self is defined in part by how we consider right and wrong. We're upset when the weather man is wrong. We get defensive when our spouse says we're wrong.  Our kids tell us we're wrong, but I think secretly kids want their parents to be right about everything, to know everything.

So what's so wrong with being wrong?

I feel much better about myself, my sense of confidence, when I am right.  It's satisfying.
I always learn much more when I am wrong.  I might feel stupid or lesser or humiliated or just humbled.  But I'm a better person today because of my wrongness.

That's doesn't mean I think that we should try to be wrong.  I just think maybe we put too much emphasis on being right.  Think about it - our culture tells us that we should seek success, winning, and rightness.

What's so wrong with second place?

I read this article last week on "Why being wrong is good for you."  The writer, Kathryn Shultz, spoke on wrongness at the 2011 TED Conference:



Perhaps we are wrong about what it means to be wrong.

"Far from being a moral flaw, it is inextricable from some of our most humane and honorable qualities: empathy, optimism, imagination, conviction, and courage.  And far from being a mark of indifference or intolerance, wrongness is a vital part of how we learn and change.  Thanks to error, we can revise our understanding of ourselves and amend our ideas about the world."

At the close of her argument for wrongness, she shares some thoughts from Benjamin Franklin on the subject, "Through our errors, the soul has room enough to expand herself, to display all her boundless faculties, and all her beautiful and interesting extravagancies and absurdities."

Kathryn Shultz concludes, "However disorienting, difficult or humbling our mistakes might be, it is ultimately wrongness, not rightness, that can teach us who we are." 

5.10.2011

In A Different Time

Today's unusually balmy summer weather in Chicago made me think of this video.  It makes me long for dogs and fields, ice cream and neighborhoods, tire swings and swimming holes, and the evening summer sun.  Here's to the dog days - enjoy.

5.08.2011

The Bees

I've had opportunities to do some pretty unique things - roam the streets of Rio, perfect my breadmaking abilities, watch whales breech outside my window in Cape Town, scour the forest for morel mushrooms, assist at an alpaca sheering - all experiences I carry in the pockets of my memory that have contributed to who I am and what I love.  

Most recently I have donned my beekeeping hat and become friends with my fellow honey-lovers, the honeybee.  My mom would tell you that I've always had something of a thing for honey, eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches everyday - the odd man out of the PB&J crowd at school.  I've studied the thread of honey that runs through the Bible and taught lessons on honey as a parallel for the sweetness of God's presence and word.  A good friend of mine did an entire project on the honeybee when we were in art school. She made a shrine to the honeybee as a sculptural nod to the fate of the honeybee and Colony Collapse Disorder - a mysterious phenomenon in which honeybees are quite simply disappearing.  So when I discovered several months ago that a friend of mine was going to start his own hive this spring, I asked if he'd let me be(e) a part of his keeping (the beekeeping puns never end).  My living situation doesn't allow me to keep my own hive, so shadowing someone else's beekeeping venture is the next best thing.  

With snow still on the ground, we plotted and schemed, watching beekeeping videos on YouTube and checking out the total of 2 books on beekeeping from the library, awaiting the arrival of the bees.  I was essentially "on call" for the latter half of the month of April, never knowing when the bees would arrive and be ready to install.  They couldn't have come during a worse week of April weather in Chicago, delaying the installation of the bees as they buzzed in their little box, sipping from the can of sugar water.  At last the rain subsided and we went out with our bee guru's guidance - excited and terrified by the 3,000 bees about to be unleashed.  After a bit of counsel, adrenaline, and sugar water, the bees were safely nestled in their new hive, with their beast of a queen and only a few casualties.  We left the bees to get acquainted with their new home and Her Majesty with only a single bee sting.  Mission accomplished.  

I couldn't be more excited about the chance to slip into a bee suit, harvest some local honey in the fall, and add another grande adventure to my repertoire of experiences.  

Here's to the honeybee.