Weekend Meditation: Gimme Shelter

Housing and shelter has been occupying a big chunk of my thoughts these days. I've had to move a lot lately and am about to embark on another round of apartment hunting this spring. (Any leads?) In the past year, I've set up shop in six different kitchens, delighting in new discoveries and adjusting to odd limitations (one kitchen had five corkscrews but no measuring cups!) It's been a delightful romp but I'm ready to settle down now and hopefully develop some of the focus and depth that comes from staying put.

Last night it rained hard here, pounding at the walls and roof and windows of my currant abode with an intensity and persistence I haven't seen all winter. As I wandered throughout my apartment, turning on a few low lights and thinking about a late dinner, I was of course grateful to be warm and dry. It was comforting that my belly was fairly full and the prospects of keeping it that way were supported by my delightfully well-stocked cupboards. Food, shelter and clothing, all the basics and well beyond, were piled up in abundant, messy heaps around me.

Of course, all this comforting abundance is a product of my efforts and choices and my will to survive, but this year especially, I've become aware that it's also a crazy, teetering, building block tower of miracles and dumb luck. A painful (but also liberating) truth is that it could all come tumbling down at any minute with very little effort. We all live with this uncertainty, whether we are actively aware of it or not. To simultaneously hold these two things, this sense that there is enough and the understanding that it all could be gone tomorrow, is a tricky thing and something I haven't really gotten the hang of.

All this thinking makes me hungry so I wander into my kitchen and cook up some kale that won't last another day if I don't do something with it now. I wilt it in a hot pan with a little oil and salt and toss it with vinegar and slivered shallots to make a warm salad. For color and sweetness I add a few chopped apricots and for crunch some crushed almonds. At the last minute I toss in a handful of feta cheese. Sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy.

I sit at the kitchen table with my big bowl of salad and eat, watching the rain falling outside my window. Suddenly it intensifies and it's exactly like that expression about the sky opening up. Buckets and buckets pour down with a dramatic roar and the earth and trees and plants and the pavement, too, seem to open up in return and receive it. I eat my salad and enjoy the smell of the rain and the rusty clanging of my radiator and the salt chewy crunchy salad and for now, in this moment at least, there is plenty.

Related: Weekend Meditation: Harold and Paul Make Polenta

(Image: Dana Velden)

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