Cookery Maven Blog

A View From The Top

I celebrated a birthday in October and we walked up to the top of Mount Ashwabay for a photo safari. It was the perfect way to usher in my 43rd year— a bird's-eye of the lake, the last russet and gold leaves, a brilliantly blue sky and of course the kids and dog (George was the only dog invited). Sadie, George and I opted for a kinder, gentler stroll up Swiss Miss but Meg, Charlie and Caroline went big and decided to head straight up the Drop. We met at the top, took a hiatus to catch our breath and take in the view. It's truly one of the best views up here and well worth the climb.

As I sit here at the kitchen table (three weeks after this beautiful afternoon), listening to the election results roll in, I can't begin to imagine the spectrum of emotions each candidate must be feeling. After months of campaigning, it comes down to the individual votes of millions of people throughout the country. I was the 75th voter in Bayfield this morning and while I'm far removed from the spotlight of Cuyahoga County in Ohio, my vote counts. Of course, I would love to wake up tomorrow with President Obama in office for another four years but it's out of my hands and into the collective hands of everyone who voted today.

One of the gifts of aging is my deep understanding of the power and sense of peace that comes with surrender and fully living in the present moment. As I move into my 43rd year (and away from a divisive and often ugly campaign season), I intend to embrace what's surrounding me every day— my raucous, loving family and friends, free thinking dogs, fantastic dinners and wine, good books and great stories, Lake Superior's water and beaches and the trees who watch over me. Lord knows, it'll be a challenge but it's enough.

You Reading This, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember? How sunlight creeps along a shining floor? What scent of old wood hovers, what softened sound from the outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world than the breathing respect that you carry wherever you go right now? Are you waiting for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this new glimpse that you found; carry into evening all that you want from this day. This interval you spent reading or hearing this, keep it for life —

What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

William Stafford

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

This morning, I was in the basement attempting to make sense of the piles of clothes, socks and towels that resembled a small mountain range. Since the basement is NOT my favorite place to be, I thought listening to MPR might make my task more enjoyable. Eboo Patel, founder of InterFaith Youth Core, was offering his perspective on religious intolerance and the resulting violence we read and hear about every day. At the end of his interview, he quoted a portion of the last stanza of William Stafford's poem, 'A Ritual To Read To Each Other'. I stopped sorting clothes and let the phrase, 'For it is important awake people be awake' sit with me. What does it mean to be awake?

The mountain range of clothes kept me in the basement for the majority of the afternoon and I had plenty of time to think about Stafford's poem. I am awake when I am walking on the beach with the dogs, making cream cheese wontons with Charlie and Meghan, going on photo safaris with Will and Sadie on the Little Sioux River, watching Ted and Jack laugh about Henry's snoring or catching a glance of the lake on my way to pick up the kids at school. What awakens me can be as simple as planting a garden or as complex as protecting Lake Superior. It comes down to stewardship and legacy— how will I protect what I love and how will I leave it for my children and grandchildren. Poems like Stafford's remind me to be awake, listen with an open heart, watch the horizon and do everything I can to ensure truth will light the darkness.

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am and I don't know the kind of person you are a pattern that others made may prevail in the world and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind, a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail, but if one wanders the circus won't find the park, I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy, a remote important region in all who talk: though we could fool each other, we should consider— lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake, or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep; the signals we give— yes or no, or maybe— should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

William Stafford