Give me Space & Time… and I will Caramelize Onions.
Let me sing you the glories of a weekend to yourself, nestled among riverside evergreens, when you are a sleep deprived mama of two.
A gift I always assumed was too much to even ask for, was reserved and packaged sweetly and generously by my husband, who held down the fort at home while I cozied up by a fireplace and remembered what it was like to follow my own natural rhythms and make decisions based purely on how I felt at the moment.
I relished the thought and imagined what it would be like in the days leading up to this weekend. What I would occupy my time with, the things I could do with my stretches of time, the places I would take myself out to eat. The sleeping in I would do!
And I did. I slept and woke lazily and at my own whims. I took myself on walks along the river and marveled at the muted but rich palate of greens and blues and grays. I soaked up the Christmas lights and decorations wherever I found them.
But I was surprised that I didn’t go far. And every meal that I ate, I cooked myself in the little kitchen on my riverside cottage.
And I knew… that what I wanted, needed, more than anything was replenishment, rest and first-hand recreation. But part of me thought that would come in the form of enjoying food others cooked. Rambling through new streets and into new shops. You know, vacation stuff. Oh I anticipated lots of reading and writing and maybe even a yoga class.. but the extent to which I actually bunkered down in my little retreat house surprised me.
When given an abundance of space and time… what I wanted to do… was cook. Sit and eat, with the fire and nothing else. I brought stacks of books and notebooks, because I can’t leave home without at least half a dozen options… but most of them were untouched. I spent some time Unravelling the year (a la Susannah Conway) but then let it sit, to marinate, rather than bulldozing through the entirety of it. I read a chapter here and there. But then I wanted space.
I wanted to sit and get lost in the stillness around me and the flicker of flame. I wanted to push and pull at flour and yeast and salt. I wanted to put the heat on low, and stir and swirl onions until they were soft and caramelized. I wanted to wash a dish (GASP!!!) and feel the warm sudsy water wash over my hands as they moved over the white, smooth surfaces. Those things that time in the everyday doesn’t always seem to allow for. Or that I don’t take the time for because I think my time is more valuable spent elsewhere.
It’s this realization that has been slowly trickling into my understanding… first intellectually, and now, it seems… ever so slowly into my experience. That things are achieved… growth, evolution, realization, alchemy, beauty… when you let something simmer for a while. When you leave it alone, and let the crackling of it, or the smell of it lure you back, reminding you to give it a little attention.
I think sometimes the things we need most, are the things we so adamantly insist are a waste of time… an unnecessary luxury… superfluous.
I think this weekend. To caramelize onions was exactly what I needed.