This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.
Baltimore has a trash-collecting water wheel. Antartica has “Blood Falls,” a seep of brine that is Poe-colored. The Washington Post calls the oozing red waterfall “magnificently creepy” and scientists this week discovered that it contains “strange microbial life”…much like my fridge, is what I thought. How long has that three alarm chili been in there?
Which brings me to my subject: breaking bread. Sharing food with others. Comfort food. Sharing a meal with others “actually makes you a better person,” suggests a study in the journal Appetite.
It’s been a rough week. I’ve been consumed by the urge to make things for my neighbors. Homemade, calorie-dense things like Doris’s Salty Hot Fudge Sauce to knit neighborhoods together. I don’t care how simple-minded that sounds. I am bone-headed. Who can resist the sweet peace of a casserole? Or deviled eggs with a sprinkle of paprika on top, each egg in its own little indentation?
I’m not saying a big shared pot of minestrone with a Parmesan rind in it is a justice band-aid, it’s not. I’m just saying: Let’s break bread together. I know that’s Bible-talk, and, through I grew up Episcopalian, I’m currently more of a rub-a-dub-dub thanks for the grub kind of person. A simpleton. The kid in the back row in 7th biology class who when called upon to state some common pollinators said, “Dogs? Like maybe, their fur?” And everyone swiveled around and laughed. I was doing my usual thing. Being out to lunch. Moron. Dummy. I wear these epithets now as emblems, though research shows being bullied by classmates has deleterious long-term health consequences.
When my neighbors brought food to share with my family when my Husb. was in the hospital and recovering from his jaw reconstruction surgery I could have sworn I witnessed their angel wings fold up gracefully behind the dishes of macaroni and cheese and turkey divan, and I’m not an “angel wings” kind of person either. See what you’re doing to me, Baltimore? Because of you I’ve been doing loving-kindness metta meditation.
Today is May Day. Tomorrow is the most exciting two minutes in sports, The Kentucky Derby and I’m making simple syrup to make Mint Juleps and Derby Pie bars and having people over. Next week is Mother’s Day and I’m making candied violets for my Ma and having people over. I’m also making the easiest and most retro cake in the world, Icebox Cake. Ingredients? Chocolate wafter cookies and whipped cream. And you’re done. (The recipe is from the AARP.)
And then in two weeks it’s down to the Pimlico racetrack rail with a large box of sweet cheese Danishes.