Weekend Meditation: An Extraordinary Occurrence of Lemons

Things have been rather ordinary in my kitchen these days. What with an extra busy work week, some much needed but persistent rain and an empty wallet, I'm left digging in the back of the cupboard in search of quick, simple nourishment: pastas and canned soups, crackers and cheese, maybe a scrambled egg or two. Nothing too exciting, nothing to write home (or a column) about. But last night, fourteen gorgeous lemons unexpectedly came my way. Oh, such bounty! Fourteen gorgeous organic lemons can turn an ordinary life into an extraordinary life, just like that.

The lemons looked so handsome heaped up on a white oval platter that it was tempting to just leave them there forever. But since it's a good friend's birthday tomorrow, I decided instead to bake a cake. The lemons smelled like some crazy spicy bright perfume when I grated them for zest and when I squeezed them for their orangey yellow juice, they rolled smooth and cool like silk in my hand. (OK, I'll fess up: they were gorgeous organic meyer lemons.)

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For two blissful hours the only sound in the kitchen was the clatter of dishes and the rain on the sidewalk outside my window. I don't know why, but occasionally I remember to find my blessings in what's sitting right in front of me. The extraordinary occurrence of those fourteen lemons was definitely one of those times.

As our economy shifts into low gear (reverse?), most of us are going to have to do with less, possibly even a lot less. But perhaps there is a silver lining here. Maybe we'll discover that doing with less doesn't have to be a painful, contracted existence. Maybe without the distraction of the latest widget or premium imported ingredient we'll have more room to appreciate our lives and the many ways we are being provided for. And perhaps we'll see that often that support comes from the simple things that surround us all the time. From that point of view, a sack full of lemons is a treasure and the birthday cake baked from them an offering.

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I would trade very little in my life for those two hours spent in my kitchen, slicing and squeezing and grating fourteen (rather small) lemons. Actually, I received the gifts from those lemons several times over: first when I received them, second when I worked with them in my kitchen, third when I took the cake out of the oven. The fourth and fifth will happen tonight when I have the pleasure of giving the cake to my friend and then enjoying it with her in the company of many fine people/ Each day, each moment, a treasure trove in this ordinary, extraordinary life.

Oh, and the cake recipe is from the soon to be defunct (sob!) Domino Magazine. Here's the link.

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Weekend Meditation

Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.