Strolling throughthe Park of Roses, fall’s arrival was the big picture. Straggling branches, limp in the unseasonable heat, created a scene of tangled decay. The up-close view was quite different and surprisingly fresh and beautiful. Here and there could be found the most perfect of rose blooms, exuberant in their beauty, even on the last Monday of September. (Yes, this one—–)
With concernsfor the future of American civility and fear of nuclear war as world leaders exchange threats, the big picture is grim and unsettling. But up close, there is a walk in the park with Alicia and Leo, applesauce in the slow cooker perfuming the afternoon house, and an evening rehearsal of Haydn’s Mass No. 3 in D Minor.
So. I’m going with roses and goodness today. And what better way to celebrate late roses and right-on-time apples than with Bourbon Butter Apple Skillet. Sauce is adapted from Sherry McKenney’s maple pecan cake recipe, found in her cookbook, A Taste of the Murphin Inn. Thanks, Sherry!
Bourbon Butter Sauce: Combine all ingredients and stir until heated through.
1 Cup sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp bourbon (with lots of spill-over)
Thinly slice a few apples (leave on the skins) and toss them in a skillet with some of the prepared sauce. Use medium heat until apples are cooked through but not soggy. (5-10 minutes or so) Serve in dessert bowls with a small pitcher of cream for drizzling.
In 1988, my father died suddenly of a heart attack, and having lost my mother 10 years earlier, I was officially orphaned. Often I found myself in a one-sided conversation with my parents, and once in a while, imagined hearing back from them.
One of those times a ditty began to sing itself in my mind’s ear, and although the melody has been lost, I do remember the lyric: Make a little beauty each day….It’s all that’s asked, all that’s required, just make a little beauty each day.
Yes. Making beauty. A roast chicken, a song, an Alexander Technique lesson, a pleasing arrangement of pottery and pictures on the mantle, a linen napkin under the sterling silver at dinner. A kind word, a lavish party. A photograph. A friendship. A marriage. A life you can love. It’s enough.
In this spring season, when the natural world is wild with making, may you be inspired to make a little beauty too. It’s all that’s required——
1.the state of being inactive. —Syn. Dawdling, pottering, shilly-shallying
2.disinclination to activity. —Syn. slowness, indolence, slothfulness
Webster’s New World Thesaurus was fairly upbeat with its ‘idleness’ entry until ‘indolence’ and ‘slothfulness’ made an appearance. Here we enter into the realm of judgment and the expectation that incessant activity and productiveness is a preferred mode of being.
Easter Sunday was a rare day of, yes, I’ll claim it, indolence. The positive spin would be ‘rest.’ The massive and very dead ash tree along the Rt. 296 lane had finally been removed and Mike was tired. Our social life found us happily out late the night before, celebrating the season with long-time friends. The plan had been to hop in the car the next day and get ourselves to the hill, but after sitting on the back porch in perfect bliss with our morning coffees, we concluded a trip to the farm was altogether too much doing.
Or as my godson Lyle used to ask, when I picked him up from preschool and proceeded to run errands, ‘Diana, could we please stop going?’ Yes, Lyle, we could. What a fine question. We do not have to keep going. Stopping is a very good idea. Essential, really.
We live in a world with very few pauses, and I write this week to encourage the finding of spaces, moments, hours, even a day, to quit with going and doing. This Easter Monday finds me refreshed* following a rare day of do-less-ness. Wishing for you the same—-
*Thanks to Beth C. for her delightful uses of the word ‘refreshed.’
‘A home with moss growing is a happy home.’ —Marth’s mother.
Moss grows on the north side of our city home and also the cabin on the hill. Green loveliness even in winter months, if it stays mild as it has this season. Other markers of a happy home? A well-swept front porch. Rooms that receive natural light. The scent of cinnamon. A tea kettle in frequent use.
And the happy domicileequivalent of the body? You’d be surprised. Quiet is a good indicator. I’m referring to the sounds of walking, climbing and descending stairs, in-and-out-of-chairs.
As an Alexander Technique teacher, I’ve been astonished at how much I rely on my ears to assess a student’s use. Certainly the auditory sense was front-and-center as a voice teacher, but I had no idea the ears would be so important to my AT teaching as well.
Sweep the porch of your Body/Mind. Receive light and love with the open window of your heart. Surround yourself with a pleasing scent. Sip tea. No need to seek quiet as a goal. That would be what FM called ‘end-gaining.’ AT teacher, Pedro de Alcantara, has this to say about end-gaining: ‘to go directly for an end (a goal) causes a misuse of the self which makes the end (goal) unattainable.’ (quote from Indirect Procedures: A Musician’s Guide to the AlexanderTechnique)
Peace and quiet with soft mossunderfoot is my wish for you this fine day, both in your body-home, which the Elizabethans called the ‘bone house,’ and in your shelter-home.