retr eat

I couldn’t be any closer to paradise right now. There’s a bunch of fresh lilacs on the table and raspberry tea in my cup. Outside the air is honey-like, as if the mountain forest was playing at being tropical. I half expect to see a monkey trot by any moment, but for now it’s just deer.

A turn of the wheel has brought me here to Ulster County, nestled in the gentle curves of the Catskills–New York State’s smaller of two mountain parks. It’s a two week house-sitting gig that with my husband off teaching in Manitoba was just too good to pass up. I’ve never been afraid of solitude, and we’ve been out of contact for quite awhile now. These next few stretched out days will be reflectively, restoratively, relinquishingly, mine.

I couldn’t be any closer to paradise, not unless all my kith and kin were close enough to come over for a vast spread that I would lay all over this undulating house in bowls and dishes. Maybe then it would be true paradise, for beautiful things can be hollow when there’s no to share them with…

But that’s the thing with solitude—it doesn’t do so well with longing. And so right now, I long for only one thing: the moment. And what the moment now brings is getting tagged by sister food blogger, Julie. For the moment, I am only at the command of reflection:

What was I doing ten years ago?

June 1998. Seventeen years old and only days away from graduating Springfield Collegiate in the bucolic village of Oakbank, Manitoba:

  1. dreaming about my first formal, and wearing a princess dress
  2. studying for final exams
  3. basking in the innocence of living under my parent’s roof
  4. spending 97% of my time socializing
  5. caring little about the specifics of the future

What are five non-work things on my to-do list for today? (note: since I’m on retreat, these are different from what they’d normally be in Syracuse!)

  1. run with Boona, the resident black lab
  2. do yoga here:
  3. make the BBQ Black-Eyed Pea Collard Rolls from my new cookbook (a gift from my new friend June in Berkeley)
  4. clean and re-lube my bicycle chain for some mountain road rides
  5. hot-tub + birthday suit = happy Jen

Five snacks I enjoy:

  1. halva
  2. Finn Crisps (from Finland)
  3. Whirley-Popped Popcorn
  4. my mom’s sour cream coffee cake
  5. olives

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

  1. be ridiculously generous in as many ways as possible to those in the greatest need
  2. get a debt-free Master’s degree (’cause learning is not only for making money)
  3. HELLO FANCY ROAD BIKE, LET’S BE FRIENDS
  4. build an environmentally sustainable home somewhere pretty, complete with an organic vineyard in the backyard and an artisan bakery in the front–plus plenty of well-paid staff
  5. travel, the way I always have, just to more places and with more lucky people in tow

Places I’ve lived:

  1. Syracuse, NY
  2. Vancouver, BC
  3. Bow Lake, AB
  4. Allada, Benin
  5. Manitoba (Oakbank, Gimli, and Winnipeg)

Jobs I’ve had:

  1. writer
  2. barista/muffin girl
  3. server/bartender
  4. youth ministry leader
  5. lifeguard/camp counsellor

…and because I’m a food blogger, I had to add one more food themed one…

Food related books on your wishlist:

  1. Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook
  2. The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution
  3. The Bread Bible
  4. Women Who Eat: A New Generation on the Glory of Food
  5. 660 Curries

and now for the tagging business: Tag! You’re It!

  1. Dawn of Bitter Sweet Sour Salt
  2. Jennifer of Cookin’ in the ‘Cuse
  3. Megan of Back on this side of the Door
  4. Gillian of Arbitrarily Predictable
  5. Rachel of Atoms Arranged Meaningwise
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3 responses to “retr eat

  1. Hi Jen,enjoyed your blog.What a relaxing looking place.Know what I’d like to do? come over for tea.It’s that kind of a day here,rainy & cool.We’re very tired of it.I think I’ll have to get out my mixer and do so e baking,that’s the only way to handle a day like this-it makes the house feel warm and cozy,not to mention the smell.How about popping over for a sour cream scone with raapbery-fig preserve.Enjoy the solitude.It’s a gift to enjoy being alone.It’s great to see Mark.we’ll miss you especially on Grandpa’s birthday.Love, Grandma.

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