Friday, February 1, 2008

The Long Dark, Waning

The roughest patch of winter--the blunt force trauma part--is behind us. Knock on wood. We've emerged from December-January with pale faces, round, soft bellies and mold blooming on the side of the house -- at least the side where the 80 mph winds didn't whip off the siding. Shore pines fell down, sections of Highway 101 slid toward the ocean and the corner stop sign came unmoored after one too many hard flaps. But we're still here. A little weary. Our lips chapped. Ready for blue sky.

Choosing to live in the wild means surrendering. It means resistance is futile. When the sun doesn't rise till 8:00 a.m. and the black curtain drops by 4:30 p.m., much is made of sleeping. And flannel sheets. Hot tea. And foot rubs. Even the puppy can't get enough shut eye, all four legs splayed like she was dropped from a plane.

We spend less time with friends and neighbors and more time with ourselves, listening to the inner tik tik tik of our hibernation. We read books as dark as the cloud cover, about war, isolation, despair, loss, and that special kind of torture only family members can dispatch. We listen to Leonard Cohen and Elliot Smith. And of course, Lucinda Williams. Who better to wallow. We drink more Cabernet than Sauvignon. We push our cart past the barrels of olives thinking, "nope, not yet." A picholine requires a warm deck with an umbrella.

But the long dark also brings abundance. The gray, curling surf scrapes away the summer beaches and leaves us with glowing agates and buckets of fossils. And then of course those sunny Meyer lemons arrive so we squeeze them over Anjou pears, peeled, split and baked with honey, a vanilla bean and a trace of rosemary. Brussel sprouts, so sweetly green, are hashed with shallots and pancetta then tossed with fettuccine, a bit of cream and toasted pinon. Or simply cut in half, drizzled with olive oil and coriander and roasted slowly, patiently. Cauliflower is shaped into florets browned with mustard and cumin seeds then folded with chopped tomatoes and homemade curry paste. Butternut squash is pureed for raviolis with sage and hazelnuts. Or roasted, chunky and bright, and tossed with New Mexico red chile powder then finished with lime. I could go on...kale, mustard greens, brocolli, leeks, artichokes, parsnips, satsumis and of course, OF COURSE, winter crab. Oh my!

Thankfully, there's still a bit of winter left. Why rush spring.


Kylita said...

Oh, Sea Otter, I love your words. We've been hole-ing up watching old '40s movies like "Portrait of Jenny", "Ghost and Mrs. Muir" and "Enchanted Cottage" which were all very otherworldly. I love otherworldly, which is what it's like here, nestled in with the dark purple ("raisin") drapes mostly closed and the terra cotta walls dark and cozy. Beloved cat finds a dozen places to sleep when he's not out prowling in the deep snow, hiding out under the tall pines and cedars, and browned boneless chicken breasts with fresh asparagus tips with dabs of mayo were served by Jeffrey. I polished off my "birthday" Kahlua and Chambord (tiny portions left in both bottles) in my hot chocolate, actually tasty! and now I thankfully had no dumb fwds but instead read your beautiful writing and, thus, say goodnight across the country, nearly on the same degree of the globe. (Waving to you ~/~) 80 mph winds! Do you have a fireplace? we don't :o(

Sourdough Starter said...

I love the tone of this, Second to None. A fugue, of sorts, though a delicious fugue... Thank you. For myself, February comes in with a wind that slips through the space between the bark and tree. I'm carving a block of ice today, a groundhog holding up a sundial.

Flutephobia said...

mmm. thanks for re-inspiring me,
2me ed.