Goodbye little nonprofit office. Everything and nothing may happen for you in the coming days and weeks and moments while I’m losing track of measured time and instead judging my life by mood and distance, by sunset, sunrise, and the amount of home dehydrated food I have left. Hopefully you will flourish despite my absence, and I will return as a better organizer and woman than you have known before.
In addition to the siren call of the season, the time constraints of my upcoming bike tour has gently persuaded me to more thoroughly plan out my food preservation for the year. The result: nearly twenty jars of various produce, now fashioned into delectable pickles, sauces and jams.
The first canning session focused on early summer treats – bean and cucumber pickles and a spontaneous batch of raspberry rhubarb ginger jam.
Yesterday’s preservation was all about tomatoes. Around 25 lbs of in season, perfectly ripe ruby orbs to boil into submission as salsa and sauce.
First the blanching, to remove the skins and squeeze out the seeds.
Then blending, to hasten the sauce creation. My relief at having my housemate’s Ninja blender to aid this process was boundless.
Then, after additions of onions, garlic, jalepenos and basil for the salsa and Italian sauce respectively, the mixtures were jarred, preserved in a hot water bath, and finally set to cool and admire on the dining room table.
It may not feed a community house of six for a whole winter, but it will certainly feel like summer’s latent Christmas when we crack one of these jars on a dark and snowy January evening.
2013, I do believe, shall perhaps be written about and remembered as my most momentous year yet. In fact, it certainly will be, and not just because of circumstance, chance, and a failed marriage. I have taken it upon myself to make some amount of momentousness self-created, rather than imposed, and as such am taking on one of my Seven Wanders of My World: biking the Mississippi River Trail. Most importantly, I’m doing it solo.
It is my deepest intention to make this a whole person trip, to take note of my therapist’s suggested meditation and notice body, mind, emotion, and core self, without judgement. In preparation I am planning and packing, preserving food (for the trip and for the winter, for I will miss the peak canning season while I’m on the road this autumn), tying up loose ends at my blessedly flexible job, and trying to let go. Releasing expectation is both paramount and persistently difficult.
Despite the demands of a regiment of camping and 60 miles of bicycling a day, the body is easiest to care and prepare for. New lightweight long underwear. Camping cookware, including the indulgence of a solo french press coffee pot. Home dehydrated vegetables. Keens. There will be moments and hours and even days of exhaustion, strained muscles, a sore back. But also skin rich from Vitamin D. More strength and tenacity that I’ve known before. And daily morning yoga to keep me moving.
The mind is trickier, as I have learned that my constant analysis of self and surroundings pervades my other spheres of being. Choosing books to accompany me is critical and impossible. Good Poems for Hard Times is a certainty. Novels and spiritual nonfiction are more difficult to choose from. Knowing I will have to leave finished books behind is tantamount to abandoning a pet, even if I have never read the book before. My tarot cards and book will join me as well, another indulgence of sorts, at least as far as weight is concerned, but what is the weight of a book to the body when its content can spark the mind to discovery?
Attending to emotion is more complex still. There is much excitement of course, but equally as much, if not more, worry. Not so much for myself, or even for the trip itself, because in spite of my mother’s rampant concerns for my safety, I believe that the universe provides, through my intuition and more compassionate strangers than potentially harmful ones. No, my worry is for what I am leaving behind. My still new relationship with Sarah, growing in depth and loveliness yet strained by my attempted internal re-alignment after the divorce. The chickens. The garden. My housemates. My family. In my current life I am so very external, leaving little room for self care, a pattern that I dearly hope this adventure will shake up and recreate. So with mint tea dried from the yard, my journal, a box of crayons, and plans for letters and collages and exchanges with friends found on the road, I make space for my emotional self to grow and expand while I explore the Mississippi.
The last, but of course most essential, layer that is my core self I do not yet know how to best attend to. She is there. She is being rediscovered, reshaped, unearthed as nutrients in tilled soil. But I cannot yet place her, in my being or in the world. In time. Beginning September 5th.
I’m still on the train, one way or another, but distraction comes easier than relaxation, it seems.
Yesterday’s self care involved a sojourn by Lake Nokomis, a place I visit not nearly as often as I might, considering its proximity. I biked there from an unexpectedly lonely brunch, and found a perfect spot – half sun, half shade, tree to lean against. Or so I thought. A body board yoga class began not too long after I settled in, and rather than finding a new space (and having to start my half hour over, so I told myself) I decided to try to relax through it, despite wanting to do the poses the instructor half shouted so as to reach her floating students. So I sat, and left for work half an hour later somewhat more relaxed, but not as much as I’d have liked.
Today I drew. As in, coloring without a coloring book.
It was the first time in weeks for sure, perhaps even months, that I brought out my sketchbook without trying to accomplish anything particular. More of this needs to happen, this non-guided, easy handed Crayola time, as self care and then some.