Dan, brave man, accompanied the high school youth group out to Newark, New Jersey, this week for a service-learning trip. Which means I’ve had the house to myself, something that hasn’t been true for more than a night or two since we got married. It took me a few days (and a night, when I locked up tight and shut the door to the basement, just in case), but I’ve gotten used to it.
Finding a routine of pleasant silence and solitude doesn’t come naturally to me. When Dan’s around, we fill the space with conversation, friends, music, NPR, books on tape (we’re just hours away from the end of Harry Potter!). We’re not loud people, but the house generally hums with human sounds.
I’m also a person who finds it difficult not to do anything. I have a very hard time sitting with a cup of tea and losing myself in daydreams. But I’ve tried to find a more sane pace this week, a pace that includes a sound dimension—although I’ve kept myself busy and seen plenty of people, these days have felt more serene, muted.
With the CSA season underway, we are, as my friend Christina once said to me, awash with vegetables. Mostly greens right now, but we can hardly keep up! (And it’s still spring! Imagine July and August!)
Our CSA has also begun to sell loaves from a local bread maker, so I bought a small, still-warm loaf on Tuesday when I went to pick up our share. Between the bread, the greens, and a dozen beautiful brown eggs, I’ve been content to eat simple, Tamar Adler-inspired meals for both lunch and dinner. Twice a day, cooked greens and a poached egg over toast. Or no egg and a mound of parmesan instead.
I am in heaven.
I sit at the table, munching on my lunch, with a book propped open and a vase of garden flowers hovering just within my vision. When I saw the peonies at the market, the petals still hugged into each other, two delicate ivory ornaments atop their stems. Overnight, they took on a sultry languor, falling immodestly open. Now they make me think of Mary Oliver’s poem, with the roses who say,
“As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground. This
is our unalterable task, and we do it
These peonies are nothing if not huge and damp and extravagant.
By the time Dan gets back, they’ll probably be slouching toward the compost. But he’ll be home, and there will be more peonies, and strawberries, and the ox-eye sunflower will explode yellow, and the greens will keep coming and coming. I’ll introduce him to my lunchtime ritual, and we’ll eat and read and be so happy.
Oh, and last night I played the piano while the last vestiges of dusk rippled like water on the page. Heaven, indeed.
Lunch for One:
Kohlrabi Greens and a Poached Egg on Toast
inspired, yet again, by Tamar Adler
greens from one bulb of kohlrabi
1 clove of garlic
dash of vinegar
one piece of delicious bread
salt and pepper
De-rib, rinse, spin, and chop the kohlrabi leaves into roughly bite-sized pieces. Put a dollop of coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. When it has melted, add the kohlrabi leaves. As they begin to wilt, mince the garlic and toss it in. If the leaves start to look crunchy, add a slosh of water to help them steam and soften.
Meanwhile, fill a good-sized pot with water and bring nearly to a simmer. Add about a teaspoon of vinegar. Keep the heat on low and crack in an egg, gently so it doesn’t splash and make the white go crazy. Let it simmer for a minute or two, keeping an eye on the white. When it has gone from translucent to opaque, use a slotted spoon to lift it out of the water. Push it softly with your finger. If the yolk is the consistency you like (I want that golden liquid!), let the water drain off. If not, set the egg back in the water for another minute.
Toast a piece of bread and drizzle olive oil over it. When the greens are done, pile them on top. Then set the egg on that, break the yolk, and salt and pepper it to taste.
Enjoy alone with a clever lit-mystery novel.