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WORDS FROM FRIENDS

Cholla

The cholla along the ditch surprised me yesterday, coming into full bloom suddenly––in just that moment, I thought. Or, more likely, I had passed unnoticing, thinking of other such important things. The little New Mexico bees are in love with her and not at all taken up with any concerns but this. They devote themselves utterly. We are here for a nano second, and when we are gone, the cholla will still be showing off her magenta glory; the bees will keep on gathering and scattering; the cholla's golden fruits will appear in the fall beside the prosaic ditch. We are here, and then we're gone, and the rest continue despite all the indignities to which we subject them while we're here.

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA XV

THANK YOU NO MATTER WHAT

 

Listen

with the night falling we are saying thank you

we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings

we are running out of the glass rooms

with our mouths full of food to look at the sky

and say thank you

we are standing by the water looking out

in different directions

 

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging

after funerals we are saying thank you

after the news of the dead

whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

looking up from tables we are saying thank you

in a culture up to its chin in shame

living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you

 

over telephones we are saying thank you

in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators

remembering wars and the police at the back door

and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you

in the banks that use us we are saying thank you

with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable

unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

 

with the animals dying around us

our lost feelings we are saying thank you

with the forests falling faster than the minutes

of our lives we are saying thank you

with the words going out like cells of a brain

with the cities growing over us like the earth

we are saying thank you faster and faster

with nobody listening we are saying thank you

we are saying thank you and waving

dark though it is

 

~ W. S. Merwin

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA XIV

BREAKFASTS

 

My parents were more equal partners in their marriage than many couples of their generation. My dad always made our breakfasts while Mom poured juice or cut up fruit and shouted at us children to get ready for school or church. Dad's breakfasts were never the same two days in a row, and there was plenty of variety: pancakes, waffles, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, Ralston, cream of wheat, ground beef in cream gravy on toast, creamed brains, cornbread (called johnnycake in our house). Dad saved bread heels, and when there were enough, he dipped them in beaten egg with cinnamon; it was essentially French toast made of pieces of crust, so we teased him and called it Dutch toast and slathered it in homemade, imitation maple syrup. Sundays we could count on coffee cake—always. When we had bacon, it came from a big square box of bacon ends—cheap. He made Grrt from ground liver, ground pork shoulder, and barley in loaf tins, which got fried up and eaten on toast. He could do something I thought was unremarkable until I started cooking: he took two eggs in each hand, cracked them all at the same time, the eggs falling into whatever he was making with nary a piece of shell. Dad was trained as a cook in the army during the war and later made his living that way several different times in our lives. He was creative in his cooking, experimenting with combinations of foods and spices. He was the one who taught my mother how to cook meat early in their marriage.

 

For years I ate the same thing for breakfast almost every morning: yogurt with fruit and nuts, a little granola sprinkled on top as a condiment. But in the Time of Corona, I have apparently channeled my father and am creating a much more varied repertoire. Perhaps it's because the sameness of the days needs some spicing up (pun intended). I make heart-shaped mini-waffles; roasted corn mush (pictured) with little surprises—date bites, sunflower seeds and walnuts ; oatmeal mixed with chia seeds; ta'niil (blue corn mush); a Dutch treat called dikke rejst, which is rice (sometimes mixed with barley) re-cooked in milk with maple syrup or honey; yogurt and fruit; the occasional fried egg.

 

Sometimes I make what Cheyenne's friend (and mine), Amber, calls an "Anna Redsand breakfast," which makes me chuckle because it's just a continental breakfast, really. It's not what some American hotels call continental. When Cheyenne and I lived in Cuba, we sometimes stayed overnight during an Albuquerque trip at a hotel on Menaul. Their idea of a continental breakfast was donuts and orange soda. In European hotels, a continental breakfast is a veritable feast of meats, cheeses, eggs, pastries and fruits. An Anna Redsand breakfast is something in between—no sodas, thank you very much. It might include eggs scrambled with veggies, toast, a couple of cheese choices, pinto beans, bacon, a fruit salad, perhaps mimosas, French press coffee and a variety of teas. Little can give me greater pleasure than having a bunch of Cheyenne's friends or mine over for breakfast.

 

Food is not matter

but the heart of matter,

the flesh and blood of

rock and water, earth and sun.

 

Food is not a commodity

which price can capture,

but exacting effort,

carefully sustained,

the life work of countless

beings.

 

With this cooking I enter

the heart of matter,

I enter the intimate activity

which makes dreams materialize.

 

~ Edward Espe Brown

 

What are you having for breakfast these days? Do you have a breakfast memory to share?

 

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