We’ve been making this lentil soup* all winter. We finally have it down:
I pour 5 cups of organic, low sodium chicken broth into the big pot.
Ron chops 2 celery stalks, 1 large carrot, and minces 2 cloves of garlic.
I chop 1 medium onion, 1 red pepper, and 1 green pepper. Then measure out 1 cup of dry lentils.
We toss this first batch of ingredients into the pot and stir. Turn on the burner and, after it begins to boil, reduce it to a simmer for 40 minutes.
While it’s cooking, Ron and I are back to the cutting boards.
He’s got 3 red potatoes.
I have 1 zucchini.
He measures out the curry powder and basil (half a teaspoon each).
I measure out a half a cup of organic tomato sauce and drain a can of diced tomatoes.
Our second batch of ingredients goes in the pot for an extra 15 minutes at the end.
We keep sourdough bread in the freezer, and Ron thaws it out and toasts it up so we can dip it in the soup.
It’s the only part of winter I’m gonna miss.
*recipe from a Pritikin book I found on my parents’ bookshelf
“Let’s take a meditation walk,” my mom suggested when she was visiting earlier this week.
That sounded neat.
“What is it?” I asked.
My mom said it’s when you take a walk in nature while meditating on a word or phrase. As you walk you don’t necessarily seek out specific things, but you do open yourself up to whatever gifts or lessons nature has to teach.
My mom, dad, and I all piled on our coats and boots and headed out into the woods. When we passed the woodshed, we discussed logs. When we passed the garden, we discussed vegetables. We talked about family and food and the gorgeous day. Before long we had finished the loop. Not exactly meditative. Oh, well. We still enjoyed each other’s company and the crisp air of nightfall. That’s priceless in itself.
Meditation walks are probably best when each individual wanders off on his or her own path. This morning I threw on sweatpants and headed outside. I was still wearing my pajama top. I had yet to comb my hair or eat. But I wanted to be outdoors first thing.
I choose to meditate on the words: “I will rejoice and be glad in this day.” The wind brushed against me with affection. The pines played a rustling tune. The sky offered colors of deep blue. The sun poured forth armfuls of warmth. I don’t know what this day will bring, but good or bad, happy or sad, easy or tough, I rejoice in its beauty.
Blue Zones are places in the world where people live “astoundingly long lives” – for example, reaching the age of 100 three times the rate of Americans. And suffering a fifth the rate of heart disease. Imagine being able to hold your great-great-grandchild one day . . .
I first learned of Blue Zones when one of the editors I work with went on a “Quest” to the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, one of the four Blue Zones (the others are Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California, and Sardinia, Italy).
Dan Buettner, a journalist who worked extensively on researching these communities, has come out with a book titled The Blue Zone. I want to read the book in context, so I’m refraining from skipping ahead, but based on the Blue Zones website and other articles I’ve read, I know some of the lifestyle practices of centurions are (1) plant based diets (not necessarily vegetarian, but plant-based); (2) laughter; (3) spirituality; (4) family; and (5) physically active lives (like gardening and laboring).
Just because Washington DC isn’t a Blue Zone doesn’t mean my body and my house can’t be one.
“Find a point on the ground about a foot in front of your mat and softly fix your gaze on it.”
I’ve heard that instruction tons of times in various yoga classes (depending on the pose, the point of focus changes). It helps me with balance poses, like Tree pose. The other day in class, the teacher was giving that same instruction. Softly is the key word. It’s not an intense stare. “It’s almost like you’re looking behind your eyes,” she said. “It’s called Drishti.”
I never knew it had a name before.