Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's dark, not bleak.

 Winter and I don’t often agree. Portland's winters are relatively mild, misty and monotone. Vivaldi’s Winter concerto section of The Four Seasons, done Portland-style, would just be the first few bars, played on repeat, until you hit spring or go insane, whichever comes first. All those shades of grey leave me feeling similarly dull and muted, which I vow to conquer this winter with a few simple resolutions. (Thanks to this blog post for the inspiration)

1. Say goodbye to my TV. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my TV. I don’t get cable, and the 5 channels I get tend to tune in and fade out with the weather, or when the upstairs neighbor stands in his apartment. And it’s a giant beast. The space I’ll reclaim won't just be physical, either. Quiet with room to think, read, write or listen to music.

2. Greet the morning. Winter mornings are the worst, but they needn’t be. I’m going to rise early and embrace the cold, the dark, and the quiet. I’ll make a hot pot of tea each morning and write.

3. Get outside, often. Again, in Portland this isn’t so much a resolution as it is a requirement. If you wait for it to stop raining, you will NEVER go outside. But we’ve each figured out, in our own way, that rain doesn’t kill you and it’s never as cold as it seems once you’re in it. And there’s winter farmer’s markets, cozy neighborhood pubs, and moss-laced waterfalls in the Gorge just waiting to be explored.

4. Make it smell like heaven. The apartment, that is. A respectable stock of candles, a heady soup or batch of scones in the oven each weekend. Is there anything better?

5. When in doubt, look to the cat for inspiration. Because Bee knows how to live, man.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ode to Winter

My morning commute is with the sunrise, and evening with the sunset. There's two ways to picture winter: a pain-in-the-ass season of slogging through the rain on my bike, wet and cold - a blur of short, gray days and cold nights. Or, I can feel the acute cold on my fingertips, the icy rain stinging my face, and the grateful clarity of the rare day without rain - hot pinks sunrises and sunsets. Everything is intensified. This external experience brings a new freshness to my writing, too. With the short days the outside world shrinks, and the space for quiet reflection and creating stories swells. And that's pretty lovely.

First Winter Portland Farmer's Market

Today was the first-ever winter farmer's market here in Portland. So instead of that dreadful time from Thanksgiving to April, when we could only dream of getting a jewelry box of multicolored eggs and having cheerful conversations with the mushroom man (I should really learn his name) we have all sorts of (surprisingly colorful) treats at our fingers: cabbages, kale, turnips and a crazy-looking black beer radish. It's nice to know that even when produce goes underground in winter, the damp and depressed citizens of Portlandia don't have to.

If you're's a few soups that have kept it cozy the last few weeks:

Nostrana's Tuscan kale, white bean, and ciabatta soup

Creamy sunchoke soup with fried parsnips and mushrooms (from Home Made)