The Secret of the Wings

So many days in the past few weeks, I have tried desperately to snatch a moment here, and a moment there, in the midst of hectic, crowding days of meetings, expectations and deadlines. Sometimes, I peek out of the window in the precious moments between ‘Leave meeting’ and ‘Join meeting’ to catch a glimpse of the beautiful November days with its soft sunshine through the yellowing leaves, each leaf 🍁🍃🍂 taking its chance to show its beauty to the world in a grand flourish before it lets go. The evenings are dark by the time the little tiles on my meetings are gone, and I clutch my coat about me as I stare at the tiny ✨ dots lighting up the night sky instead. 

So, we went:  before the crowds hit the mountain resort for the Thanksgiving holidays, the husband worked his magic and found us a little house that was free for a couple of days only. 

All of the Californian plains that we traversed for the 100 odd miles was bursting forth with fall colors. The reds were particularly fetching against the browning hills. Traffic was very light, and as we started climbing the Sierra Nevada mountains, a nippiness crept into the air. It is the lunar waxing phase, and the moon was out early in the afternoon keeping us company as we climbed the mountains. The fall colors gave way to the snowy reaches, and soon, it was apparent that here, it was no longer Fall. Here it was Winter.

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The journey reminded me of the scene in the Tinker Bell movie where the warm fairies peek into the winter lands. The orange, yellow and the brilliant reds slowly gave way to evergreens and a world blanketed in snow. There is nothing half as marvelous as a sunny day with wispy clouds against the azure skies and a snowy backdrop. This was winter wonderland alright. 

Mulish as I was, I took off on a walk as soon as we reached our destination. I huffed and puffed up the steep hills, my lack of exercise clearly showing in the panting under the mask. I was grateful for the mask for it held the warmth of my breath in as I walked on towards the snowy reaches affording a view of the vast Lake Tahoe from up above. The moon twinkled its milky light on the snowy  reaches below, and I stopped here and there to take a picture. I remembered reading in The Sea Around Us that some of our ancestors thought the moon was made up of ice (it was a much older notion of course). It was an appealing theory – standing there in the light of the moon, with the thin glint of the snow light all about me, I could imagine how our ancestors came up with that one. 

I like to see how we made leaps in understanding, and I feel the joy of every discovery almost anew as I gain even a little understanding deeper than before. One of the things that still astounds me is the spatial intelligence required to figure out our position in the cosmos. I watch the constellations change their positions in the sky every night, I notice the moon at a different place and time, and yet, every time, I marvel at the leap of understanding for mankind. 

Read: The Man Who Deciphered the Heavens – a post on Nicholas Copernicus

That evening, the movie of choice was Tinker Bell’s Secret of the Wings. The daughter and the son overruled all the action packed thrillers suggested by the hardworking man who found us the cabin in the first place, and we settled in to watch the feisty fairy instead. Tinker Bell, the impulsive little thing that she is, is curious to see what the winter wonderland is like. Since the fairies of the warm lands are banned from going over to the winter side, of course she wants to go. It only seemed fitting to sit and watch the little movie together. 

Closeted in what looked like an adventurer’s cabin, with the soft light of the snow reflecting against the moonlight outside, a fun movie, and the warmth of food and beverage created the magic that Tinker Bell and her friends were creating up in Pixie Hollow. The pixie dust swirled and poured out in to the world, and we did the same with our comments. 

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We sought peace in the less popular trails. It was a trip meant to process the year, and say thanks to the world in spite of all that has happened during the year, or because of all that has happened during the year. I feel most like Anne of Green Gables when she says she does not know how to pray, but when out in the woods, looking up at the great gifts of nature, she can just feel a prayer and let it out into the universe. 

Isn’t it magical when our most positive thoughts take on wings and soar?

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“I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I’d look up into the sky–up–up–up–into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer. …” Anne of Green Gables, By L M Montgomery

Castor Oil, Running and Other Things

In a moment of weakness the husband and I signed up for a half marathon together. The fact that it was on my birthday was the clincher. Every time I participate in a running event, I love to see the placards that the folks use to encourage the runners. This time did not disappoint either. In fact, given that the course hugged the coastline for the most part, we had a fun run on the whole. There was music throughout the course. African drums, a senior citizen band, piano, bagpipes – you name it. Every mile there was something to look forward to. The Big Sur half marathon was truly a gift for the ears, eyes, heart and mind.

Picture from : http://www.bigsurhalfmarathon.org/
Picture from : http://www.bigsurhalfmarathon.org/

Image Courtesy: http://www.bigsurhalfmarathon.org/

The incident I am about to relate happened after the Mt. Whitney hike but before the half marathon. It is important to get the chronological order right for what I am about to relate stalled the half-marathon practice for a good three weeks. It was about the time that Indian families around the globe were navigating chaos in their kitchens while celebrating Diwali. But there was a chaos of another kind in our household. The little fellow had fallen ill and was kept home from school. As the fever subsided, he started complaining of stomach pains. He was ill and his pain induced sympathy in the onlooker (there was probably about 86% pain and 14% drama, but all the same).

One day after a stern morning at the Doctors and a particularly lethargic pharmacy visit, I walked into the house dazed and stopped in my tracks. I must also mention that I had not really slept well in days. At first, I thought it was a hallucination I was having. There, in front of me were two grown men (father and grandfather) and a lady (grandma) baring their stomachs and massaging castor oil into it. Not only that, they were smacking their lips like it was tasty business and rolling their heads like they were in a spa and getting a first rate massage from a fantastic masseuse. “Err..” I managed to say after a moment of stunned silence, when the tummy-rubbing adults turned to me, nodded and went about their belly business again. A moment later, I think the husband realized that the scene before me was not normal, and told me that they had decided to try the placebo effect with the toddler in pain. They told him that if he rubbed a little bit of castor oil on his stomach, he would feel much better, and the fellow was resisting – great big tears rolling down his cheeks, looking miserable. So, they decided to go in for a demonstration of sorts.

The daughter sometimes shows wisdom beyond her years and had refused flat. She was peeking at the scene from a safe distance, lest she be pulled in. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. Our laughing was so infectious that the son forgot his misery for a shining few minutes and reluctantly smiled too. It was beautiful to see.

Let me yank you back to the half-marathon now. It was around the eighth mile that I began having misgivings about the race. Till then, it was music, running, and coastal views. But around 8th or maybe the 9th mile, the mind started playing its little tricks on me. What was I thinking?  Music? I could have listened to some of that at home. Running: wouldn’t a 3 mile run have done the trick? Coastal views? I could have driven here with a picnic basket and so on. The husband, who was running with me, was his usual effervescent self and I urged him to go ahead because I was developing a knee grind. I ran on a little slower than usual when I saw a person with a board that said,

What seemed like a good idea 4 months ago, doesn’t seem so brilliant now, does it?

That placard did for me what castor oil did to the tummy ache. I burst out laughing, and suddenly, there was a certain energy in my stride, a determination in my gaze. The husband slowed down to join me and we ran on together determined to make the best of it.

Happy Thanksgiving Folks and Laugh. Laugh as heartily as you can.

P.S: The son is fine now

The Story behind the Menu

 

I am going to go out on a limb and say that things could be better. On the other hand er.. leg, it could be a lot worse. So, on the whole, I have decided to not put my foot down and complain about the state of things.

I could not resist the above paragraph folks. So, thanks for letting me get away with that. The truth is that I have a hairline fracture on my ankle and am hoisted up on one foot for weeks. At first, the daughter remained in denial. She kept telling me that she can barely notice the limp in my stride, about how the foot would not pain if I don’t think about the pain etc. It was only later I found that her hidden agenda was making me believe I was perfectly fine. Fine enough to go to Disneyland for the Thanksgiving break. Well, we put a stopper to her Disneyland dreams when she saw me hobbling into the house on crutches. Even she knew that no amount of psychological counseling can get me to Disneyland at this point. So, she buckled down to a week-end at home and teamed up with the husband to "take care" of me.

The pair of them made a sufficient noise about getting me to rest over the week-end and said I was to remain upstairs while they cooked up a Thanksgiving lunch for me.
Very gallant of them of course, but I have to say, I have whipped up many a meal in my life, but rarely have I made such a noise about it. I mean neighbours heard pans clanging and music blaring. Not to mention questionable noises and smells. After about an hour of this cacophony, I asked them what the menu was, and I got the following:

Pan-seared vegetables:
What that means is that the duo had cut up vegetables in haphazard shapes and let them burn. My longish nose picked up a smell like burning rubber and I asked them in a slightly alarmed voice whether everything was under control.
"Oh no….!" moaned the chef
"APPA! You said not to cover it. If we had covered it, amma would not have smelled the vegetables burning!" the sous chef’s accusatory tone rang out. I must say I would have preferred it if she did not burn it at all in the first place.

Potatoes with a hint of Cumin:
I distinctly heard the husband say "OOOPS! The lid just fell inside and it plopped all over."
The daughter rang out, "What is that appa? You said chilli powder, but isn’t chilli powder red? This one is brown or is it green?" I decided I did not want to let my imagination explore what the powder might be, but a few seconds is all it took for me to realise that the "Oops" was the Cumin bottle.
I heard them splashing water on the pan. They must have washed the cumin off because by the time I ate it, they were boiled potatoes.

Lentils with the freshness of roma tomatoes:
The dal was fine – only in the last moment, the sous chef decided that she did not like tomatoes and the Roma t’s retained their freshness.

Thanksgiving

I groaned as I hopped into the kitchen. Every single spice bottle was on the counter and every inch of counter space was full. I must’ve looked a sight because the husband said he was going to clean up and that I had come too early. The daughter said that if they had aprons, things might have been better

And so it goes … never a dull moment in the nourishncherish world.

PS: My friends and neighbours have been wonderful they’ve sent food across, so the kitchen is holding up after the last bout of cleaning. Thanks all 🙂