travel essentials

I’ve cycled the streets of Eck en Wiel & past the thick green carpet of an algae covered pond and thought I cannot be unhappy here. I have woken up hung-over and disoriented in Bruges with a train to catch and thought I cannot be unhappy here. I have hidden beneath a pier with a British sailor in a Spanish port town and thought I cannot be unhappy here. Up all night in Hania, ouzo soaked. I cannot be unhappy here. Through a hundred terminals and terminals and buses and trains throughout my life. I cannot be unhappy here. Happiness in and of itself, the peripatetic life for me.

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pear, pistachio, frangipane tart from the "top with cinnamon" cookbook

pear, pistachio, frangipane tart from the "top with cinnamon" cookbook

pear, pistachio, frangipane tart from the "top with cinnamon" cookbook

I have my mother’s hands, pronounced veins & tapered fingers. My hands are tools. They scratch and pry, knead and rub. They make. I too often use them as oven mitts. They’re devil’s hands & dirty. They like to touch and be touched, and I like to think my fingers would have been very good at piano. I, however, can’t play any instrument at all. In a different life, I’d be a pianist that spoke five languages. But I also can’t speak a foreign language. So. They aren’t pianist hands. They aren’t polyglot hands. They’re just kitchen hands. Kitchen hands that want to touch everything. The flesh of fruit and sandy almond meal. The smooth shells of pistachios, pried open for the meat. Eat one, toss one in the bowl. Cream the frangipane. Run a finger along the edge of the wooden spoon. And lick it off.

 

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coriander, fennel, mint rack of lamb

coriander, fennel, mint rack of lamb

It’s coming, in this hemisphere at least. Autumn. I just returned from Australia last week. Life was trembling on the branches. We ate rhubarb & freshly shelled peas. Even broad beans. I wandered in gardens, and arugula flowers bloomed. It was cold and gray. But the produce and shivering buds on the trees gave it away: spring. The last day there was sun. Such sun. Metaphysical sun. I cycled around the Sydney harbor & sucked oysters out of their shells in the park. But then I flew and flew away from spring and back to muscadines and gourds and picking tart, firm apples alone in the orchards of the Blue Ridge Mountains. To roasted meats and before I know it smoke, leaves aflame, and that particular razor blue of a clear, autumnal sky.

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gathering from scratch: a workshop retreat

gathering from scratch: a workshop retreat

gathering from scratch: a workshop retreat

gathering from scratch: a workshop retreat

gathering from scratch: a workshop retreat

gathering from scratch: a workshop retreat

gathering from scratch: a workshop retreat

Telling the story of your table from field to fork. The table as love language. The table as relationship. The table as nourishment of every sort. The table as ephemeral art. This is the heart of so much of my work. Finding & creating sustenance where you are, when you’re there & embracing the perfect imperfection of things as they are. Of the season, of the region. Of the table. Of people. Of yourself. That’s all I stand for. All I do. And that’s what we lived, explored, and created together at the workshop retreat I hosted with Rebecca Gallop of A Daily Something a few weeks ago, Gathering From Scratch. Here’s the first installment of the photos (there are just too many gorgeous moments to limit myself to one post) and more about our workshop.

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Making a Floral Crown

Making a Floral Crown

A couple of weeks ago, I wove a crown of flowers from local blooms as a farewell to the Estival Mother, a pretty little meditation on my gratitude for the swell of summer and all her wild, wild flowers. It was a study in a moments peace, and a nod to the fine tradition of floral wreaths that stretches back and back through May Days and Midsommers, through feast days and ceremonies. I don’t have long, languid hours stretched out before me to weave daisy chains. I doubt that any of us do. That’s a fantasy. But what I do have is a choice, and I chose, one afternoon, to say to hell with that load of laundry, I’m going to spend some time with these mad little poems and their spindly stems and nodding heads. I set to weaving them together with a bit of floral wire and within a few minutes, I had a crown. It was actually unbelievably satisfying. And I traipsed around in it doing the rest of the days work like a manic faery. I created a tutorial over on the Steller app (which, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I’m obsessed with…download it now on your iphone or ipad and you’ll know why!) So if you’d like like a step by step “How to Weave a Floral Crown”, you can find it there. As for here, you’ll just find photos of flowers and musings on peace below.

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