Taking a Holiday

I had a great holiday weekend! I didn’t go anywhere at all.  Friends came over on Monday, so I cleaned a little and cooked a little and we all had fun.  Just stayed home and wandered from the garden to my studio to my computer to the kitchen.   Despite the lack of activity in my life, the feeling that it was a holiday was somehow still in the air, and I gave myself a vacation from stress, from haste, and from the need to cross things off my constantly growing list of things to do.

On Sunday, it was especially beautiful out, and I found myself picking up my camera and just walking around the house, down to the studio and back, and all around the house, down to the meadow, and back around again.  I took a lot of pictures on that sunny day.  For some reason, I wanted to fix that moment in time .  It felt important to document the house where I live and the flowers that I nurture.

It was part of my holiday, like going away to an exotic place, and taking a million pictures to capture all those memories and visual treasures.  But I didn’t even have to get in my car to have the holiday experience.  I just stayed home and started looking at things with a fresh eye.  Discovering the brilliance of the azaleas as if I had never seen them before.  Watching the bees swarm around the chive blossoms, I felt like I was on a wildlife expedition.

It was too much fun!  I picked out a few of my favorites to put here.  Normally, I play around with photos trying to make them better, adjusting the light and the color to get what I want (or think I want).  But this time, I just left them the way they were.  No cropping or changing them in any way.  Snapshots.  Postcards.  From my holiday at home.

I think that I’ll come back to this place again.



Black-Eyed Peas and Grace

I can’t remember exactly when my friend Vivian turned me on to this old Southern tradition, but it was probably about 30 years ago.  On New Year’s Day, one must eat black-eyed peas and greens.  It’s supposed to bring good luck.  Since then, I’ve heard about the ritual from many different sources.  But I always attribute it to Vivian who had lived in the South and had tons of Southern relatives.

Over the years, my recipes have varied.  Any number of greens can be used.  The peas have the ability to create their own aromatic broth, to which I can add fresh herbs or make spicy.   Some years the addition of garlic has dominated.  Or carrots have been added.  Or rice has made the soup into a stew.  But it is always delicious and always served on the first day of the new year.

According to Vivian, one must also always have corn bread to accompany the black-eyed peas, and I have diligently followed this advice as well.  And the results….  Well, my life isn’t perfect, but I am blessed with health (knock wood), wonderful friends and relationships, a small but solid family.  I live on an island for heaven’s sake, and love my work.

I would say offhand that those black-eyed peas are working just fine!

But this year eating them on New Year’s Day was not meant to be.  For one thing, I had run out of them.  And even more significantly, we were off to Seattle for a family gathering on New Year’s Day.  I admit that I was a bit stricken when it hit me.  Would the sky fall in?  Would my life begin to fall apart and unravel?  How would the Universe punish me?

Well, in my world the Universe is pretty soft and gentle.  Forgiving and flexible, understanding, compassionate and wise.  So I tuned in and the message came through loud and clear.

I had been given a Grace Period!  By the Universe no less!

So on Monday, January 3rd, we stopped at the Coop on the way home and got the black-eyed peas and organic collard greens.  I cooked them and we ate them and they were delicious, as always.  Maybe they even tasted a little sweeter this year because I ate them two whole days late and savored the grace in that.

I breathed that in, connected to my good fortune, and felt so grateful for it.  And I wonder why it all can’t be just that easy.

What does all this add up to?  I’ve decided to continue the work of the Universe and to give myself another longer Grace Period.  One that will last forever.  Well I’m going to try it out, at least.  At least, just for today….