Food Talk · Poetry

where you are planted / bloom

I was a little
tipsy on the dance
of the velvety heart rolling
in my mouth

I was dumb-tipsy on the day.

Connie and I didn’t know it yet, but walking first into Wave Hill’s Sunroom before lounging in all of it’s unabashed green was a high-five moment.

We actually high-fived each other.

I am writing about a summer day, nearing Winter, because of the chicken pot pie I had during this visit (I’ll get there soon).

Anyway, if you know anything about my love of playing Skyrim (in which I live through my character who hand picks her flowers and shrooms for alchemical, kick-ass purposes), then you may begin to understand my excitement when I found this station of roots and flowers:

That’s Connie, not hiding HER excitement whatsoever. What is there not to love about a hands-on, minds-off exhibition?

There were bowls full of chrysanthemums, damiana leaves, angelica root, hops, lavender, rose buds, hibiscus and mugwort root. We were to take a mortar and pestle, fill it with whatever we chose from the bowls, grind them all together and then place them into a pouch. We were to walk around the space with this pouch full o’ flower and roots and then leave them on a shelf where other visitors have put theirs to rest.

I’d like to note that Connie chose more flower than root, and I, the opposite. There was an urgency about it. I’ve noticed a bright blooming about Connie. Me? My recent break-up made me want to root myself somewhere, anywhere, inside and out. There was a journal in Wave Hill’s gift shop that says to bloom where you are planted. I couldn’t agree more.

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LIKE THIS:

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Wave Hill was quiet on this day. While Connie meditated on waterlilies and fish, I spotted me a dad who was playing hide-n-seek with his two daughters. It wasn’t a quick play either. They must’ve been playing for at least 45 minutes and my heart filled up with joy and a sudden sadness I couldn’t grasp til recently.

We found ourselves a bench and she cracked open Ross Gay and read me the first poem in the book, To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian. It reads like a happy run-on. Twice, lines from this poem rang true as I stumbled upon trees and plants I wanted to show everyone around me (or just Connie, who had to deal with my enthusiastic “LOOK!” every so often.)

and soon there were
eight or nine
people gathered beneath
the tree looking into
it like a constellation pointing
do you see it

Do you?

And then after all that fig talk and all our long walks, we grew hungry. It was a very hot day but I couldn’t resist a rustic, chicken and root veggie pot pie. There were cute fingerling potatoes in it, skin-on, that made me think of Glasbern. It sounded so comforting to me and today was all about healing. Connie ordered a beet burger with a side of beet chips. That’s ma girl. Go beet or go home. I would’ve ordered that, too, had I not seen this as an option. What stood out to me about the pot pie was that a puff pastry was used, and the broth itself was packed with so many different herbs. I already knew I’d be making my own version of this later on during the week.

We spent the rest of the day lounging on the grass, reading and journaling and talking up a storm. You could smell lavender in the air. We stayed til it was literally time for the place to close down. Wave Hill has made it onto my list of green places I’d like to visit during each season, to photograph it’s changes and growth; even when not-so-green.

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Next week I wanted to make my version of the rustic chicken pot pie, but with beef. I baked a puff pastry and topped it with butter and fresh rosemary that I grew. I made sure the broth was rich with fresh herbs. The star of it for me were the English peas I used that I had just gotten from the farmer’s market. So sweet. Sometimes it makes me sad to cook just for one person, I always want to share, but I loved having leftovers of this. It’s the perfect time of year to make this once again, and I promise to write up the recipe when I do. You pretty much just throw everything in a pot and simmer.

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Needless to say, I am ready for 2016 to come to a close, but not without getting what I can out of the lessons I learned throughout the year. Especially remembering this day that kept reminding me of the importance to grow and bloom right where you are, even when, at times, you think the soil is not right or the days are too ugly for personal growth. But that’s right when we do grow, yes? Even Ross Gay entered our day with that message, which I will leave right here for you today:

c’mere baby,
he says and blows a kiss
to the tree which everyone knows
cannot grow this far north
being Mediterranean
and favoring the rocky, sun-baked soils
of Jordan and Sicily
but no one told the fig tree
or the immigrants
there is a way
the fig tree grows
in groves it wants,
it seems, to hold us

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