A woman was killed by a garbage truck yesterday morning while walking her dog outside our window. That was before 6 am. Then, we walked passed a large bellied man in the lonely streets with a small head who had been badly burned and was missing his ears. There was the chronic alcoholic woman with ovarian cancer from the night before. News casters cover the deaths of pop icons and the nation plays videos of the early years, conjuring sensations of an era lost. My list of grievances builds into a scroll. 45 days of salad have gone by, meaning summer is half over. The cilantro at the farmer's market has gone to seed.
The new restaurant across the street has already begun building tumbleweed as novelty has taken his dollars elsewhere and the townspeople returned to their homes in fear of the bandit who calls himself financial crisis.
We got home late last night from our failed search for open pizza joints which landed us in the not-so crowded new place across the street where they now have to cut their "blue cheese" with an orange cheese which sweat dark grease droplets when it melts into smooth wax. I told Christina that it feels like we are buried under a dark cloud right now.
"I don't think so" Christina said. "I think it feels like you are under a dark cloud because all this is happening, but really all this stuff is happening to make you appreciate your life more".
I heard a fantastic definition of spirituality once. "Spirituality is finding meaning in all aspects of your life."
Sometimes it is helpful to have other people point you to the meaning.
I decided to stop building my list of grievances and build a list of gratitude. It started with basil. Basil carries strong memories for me, it is the powerful waft of air that surprises me every time I open the fridge, carrying in it's smell fragrances of every other time I opened the fridge to be greeted by basil.
Basil is the Caprese salad we had in the summer time when families would gather together. Tired from a day of swimming, my friend and I would sit on the deck in the grey night surrounded by adults and citronella and steal finger fulls of basil spiced olive oil from the tops of tomatoes while we swung our feet from the wooden benches and waited for the meat to grill.
Basil is the flavor of my first Margarita pizza. I remember it was so exotic, so refreshing to me, I never dreamed I would order another boring old pizza again. I was angry that I had wasted so much of my life in ignorance of it. I was probably 10 at the time!
For every loss their is a gain, there is always something new to gain. In between the gains and losses is a single moment, where hope and despair are both on the menu.
The salad (this salad is only as tasty as the ingredients you use. We are not hiding anything behind vinegar or lemon here, so really taste each ingredient)
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and add 3 zucchini cut into half moons. Add some mashed garlic (really mash it with the edge of your knife blade). Sprinkle with salt. Add 1/4 head of cauliflower broken into small flowers. Heat until the zucchini just begins to soften, then remove from heat.
Slice 1 container cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls (little ones). Add 1 bunch fresh basil, chiffonade. Drizzle liberally with olive oil (make sure the oil tastes fresh). Add salt and pepper. Add the cooled zucchini mixture.
Christina's vote: "This salad made me feel like I can go home again"