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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Be the Sky

Be the sky,

the moon, the sun, the stars.

Be my love beneath the sky,

above the moon.

Travel across space with me.,

Follow the bright sun's path.

Be the air I breathe,

the thoughts I think.

Accompany me on moon trails

and walks through the stars.

Be the sky that guides

and shelters me,

the warm rain of summer,

the reigning ice of winter.

Hold with me the reins of wind

and gallop beside me

on the waves of air.

Be with me as I lift my head.

Be the surrounding sky

and all that is encompassed in it:

sky air sun stars moon light dark

rain snow wind day night.

Be the sky of my life.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Bolt from the Blue

Like any epiphany, this one was unexpected. Well, "epiphany" is probably too strong a word. You decide.


It was a sunny July Saturday, early afternoon, and I was in the back yard unpinning dried laundry from my retractable clothesline. I've always known that I like hanging out the clothes (in summer only, mind you). But at that moment I was struck with bliss.


In the process of folding a tablecloth I thought "there is nothing on earth I would rather be doing right now than folding and taking in the sweet-smelling, slightly stiff, line-dried laundry." Well, I didn't phrase it quite like that; there were fewer adjectives in the original. But the happiness was unalloyed. "Bliss" is the right word.


Then, because this is how my mind works, I noticed the neighbours' house. I was facing their kitchen window and remembered that they were away. Travelling. At their cottage up north. Somewhere. And I couldn't help but make the comparison: me taking clothes off the line, the neighbours frolicking in some Not-Home place. And I was filled with gratitude for the fact that I am allowed (by the world, society, the culture, good luck) to live my life exactly as I want.


An experience like this will inevitably lead me to explore my reluctance to travel, which stands in strong relief to the habits of almost every couple we know. Everyone else is always going some place. Off again on an adventure. Off to see a sight (sometimes to re-see a sight they've seen before). Off and running. Off time after time, summer after summer, winter after winter. What keeps us (me) at home?


The first issue for me is comfort. Over and over I am made to face the fact that comfort is very important to me. I do not see this as a positive thing. I'll bet the Dalai Lama doesn't fuss about his "comfort." He'll just take wherever he lands and declare it comfortable, rather than having pre-determined ideas of what comfort should be.


So I'd probably be a better person if I weren't so hung up on my narrow comfort zone. Not too hot. Not too cold. In familiar surroundings. Food when I'm hungry. Water always available. Shoes that don't pinch. You know: comfort.


I can come up with loftier reasons to stay at home. First, it is good for the planet to avoid unnecessary travel.


Next, I cannot bear the thought of contributing to the harmful effects of tourism on so many places (Venice, for example, or popular exotic natural phenomena). People seem to feel a god-given right to travel to faraway places so they can gawk (sorry; gaze) at foreign people and sights. And then they come home and say that such-and-such a place was beautiful—but the food was terrible, or too expensive, or the place was overrun with tourists.


You get the picture. Maybe I'll make those reasons the real excuse for not wanting to travel, rather than my need for comfort, since that inevitably highlights my shallow nature.


Back to my epiphany. I was struck on that day by the deep joy that came to me while I folded my clean laundry, standing on the wooden deck, unpinning the clothes pins one by one and dropping them into their basket. Then I aligned the top corners of the tablecloth, gave it a good shake, and further folded it into a neat rectangle. I take the laundry off the line slowly, walking from the line to the clothespin basket, folding things and putting them in the laundry basket. I remove items from the line in order: first, all the pieces that need to go upstairs, then all those for the downstairs. This way I can just lift the top items off the pile when I'm in the kitchen, making my upstairs load lighter. My load is light. My light is strong. I smile often.



Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Portents and Bushel Baskets

It isn't a portent, I'm pretty sure, that the silken grey ribbons pulled out from the spine of my little notebook, leaving it plain and undistinguished. It couldn't be an omen, for what would it be telling me? Don't use the notebook any longer? Don't rely on inanimate objects to mark your place? Pretty things die?


You see? You can make anything mean anything if you just set your mind to it. So I'll say this event signals that it is time to break out the glue gun and do some repairs. That's as deep as I want to go.


Now imagine a bushel basket. You don't see many of these any longer, unless you buy your tomatoes and peppers in bulk at the farmers' market. I love bushel baskets. My husband, not having grown up in a world that featured them, has trouble with the name and invariably refers to them as "bushels" not realizing that the operative word is baskets. I used to correct him (a bit harshly, sometimes, because surely after all these years with me he should remember this). But now I just let it go. Besides, we're about over our mock-farmer phase where we "put by" the peppers and romano beans and tomatoes for the coming year. So our supply of bushel baskets in the basement is dwindling, thank goodness. We really don't need to keep any on hand.


When our Hannah was not quite two (she's 23 now) her favourite game was to sit in a bushel basket, which we would place on a large towel or small rug. Then one of us—whichever adult had the most energy that moment—would grab one end of the towel or rug and pull the Hannah-loaded basket all through the house. We have pictures.


For vegetable deliveries from our CSA, Steph uses large plastic tubs with lids, which we return to her at the next delivery. They probably suit her needs much better than bushel baskets would. She can wash them with her power hose to clean them for the next delivery. They are sturdier by far than bushel baskets, whose rough thin slats are minimally held together with interweaving and wire. Plastic tubs don't have splinters, either.


But as long as farmers have stands and Dupont Street has Italian greengrocers who sell the tomatoes grown in the family fields, there will still be bushel baskets.


Once, when it mattered, I could recite the table of equivalents all the way up to bushel (16 T in a cup, 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon—and then something makes a peck and X number of pecks makes a bushel). "I love you a bushel and a peck". Take half a peck of small cucumbers . . .  These days if I need that information I just look in Mrs. Rombauer's index (under Table of Equivalents). Someone else might go online, but that wouldn't tap into the nostalgia of finding those words and figures on the printed page of an old cookbook.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog:

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Brave and the Others

Beyond the shore lies danger enfolded in mystery.


Beyond the shore lies mystery encased in a shell of danger.

Only a few brave the depths and swells

of the unknown.

Only a few pierce the shell of danger

and approach the mystery,

itself not to be solved but acknowledged.

And what of those who stay on shore?

What of the timid who brave nothing but the struggles

of their own lives?


Do the rewards go only to the foolhardy

who actively seek the mysteries

surrounded by danger?

I find it hard to believe

we are stigmatized, favoured or not,

according to the boldness of our thrust through life.

To us all belong the spoils,

just for making it through.


Copyright © 2018 Ann Tudor
Food blog: