Full Summer

IMG_1728Made it. The journey took me twenty-six hours, two planes, two trains, two cars, and a bus (let’s not count the elevators and staircases and pounds of baggage I was carrying), but I’m here. And I’m thrilled.

There’s not much in life that stands up to a warm welcome. And when you live in a community of forty or more people who all exclaim and say, “Ah, mais c’est bon de te revoir!“–“Oh, but it’s good to see you again!”–well, let’s just say I have a solid case of the warm-fuzzies.

IMG_1731I’m getting settled back into the kitchen here. I was lucky enough to return in time for the last day of a course with the venerable Beru Khyentse Rinpoche, a Tibetan master who teaches often in the West. I made this tart Sunday night for two of his attendants who stayed with us. Sorry, no recipe, as I just kind of threw it together. You can too if you’re in an off-the-cuff tart mood. It’s just sautéed bell peppers and onions layered with tomatoes and potatoes, all inside of a crumbly pâte brisée.

IMG_1735We are, as the French say, en plein été here. In full summer. It’s an apt term. There is a richness in the air that fills you up. Deep yellow sunshine, a Pantone array of flowers, and the whistle and whizz of things on wings living out their warm-season lives.

IMG_1746I am glad to be a part of it.

In Spare Moments (you think about sadness and make tarte aubergine).

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In spare moments, you find yourself running up the hill to Lama House, down the hill to the community room, up the hill to the Institute, down the hill to the main kitchen, up the hill to the library, down the hill to your caravan, giddy through it all. In spare moments, you find yourself occupied by recipes to test, drawings to begin, people to take tea with. In spare moments, you find stillness amidst all the action.

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And in the stillness, you remember. You remember, times were, you weren’t so happy as this. You remember disbelieving in impermanence, your sadness had lasted so long. You remember the struggle to stay convinced, day after day, that even if there was no real and permanent you, this current, temporal you had goodness and worth and something to offer. You remember suffering without respite.

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In spare moments, you slice eggplant and chop parsley and reflect on this conversation you had yesterday. You wondered if the person across the table from you thought maybe you were fudging a bit in describing life these days, your story was so slanted toward contentment. And you realize how goddamn lucky you are that it’s even possible for some one to disbelieve that you know suffering. And you realize you had better say grace, like every minute of the day, because in this life, nothing lasts. Neither sadness, nor joy, neither misery, nor bliss, and you have known them all and you will know them all again.

In spare moments, you whisper gratitude for what is, you nod at fear for what may come, and you say a prayer for those on the other side of the spinning wheel of life.

Recipe after the jump…

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