Pages

Photographs by Meadow Linn

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Chicken or the Egg?

My hen Sapphire

There’s still a chill in the air, but I’m already making plans for the months ahead. As I was looking at seed catalogs and dreaming of the beautiful herbs, flowers, and vegetables that’ll grow in my garden this summer, I started to think about the metaphorical seeds we plant in the spring, the time that traditionally represents new beginnings.

In this time of starting anew, I’m wondering how to begin…

First blossoms of the year in my dad's fruit orchard
Up until this point, family, school, and work have dictated most of my life. I grew up in Seattle because that’s where my parents lived. Then off to Massachusetts I went because I got accepted at my dream college. After that, I flew to Paris for graduate school. Upon finishing my thesis, I landed at a boarding school in Maine for my first job. Then, Los Angeles beckoned with a teaching position I couldn’t refuse. Four years later, I left education to pursue my passion for cooking and writing. My parents’ town of Paso Robles, in California wine country—ranked one of the “foodiest small towns” by Bon Appétit—was an obvious choice.

Now nearly three years hence, I enjoy this town and love having my parents just up the road, but I still haven’t set down roots. Friends have always been important to me; yet, I haven’t created much of a community here.

Downtown Paso Robles
When my parents came here from Seattle 11 years ago, they planned to stay forever. But, things change.

Although their move doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll move, it’s made me start to evaluate my own life and whether or not my future is here. Since most of my work is mobile, for the first time, my destiny doesn’t depend on anything other than the whisperings of my heart, which is both frightening and exhilarating.

In August I decided to take a break from dating, but I’m feeling the itch to get back out there and find a man to marry and start a family with. But, to grow a beautiful garden or a wonderful life, you can’t throw just any seeds in the ground, walk away, and expect miracles. Just as I spend hours pouring over seed catalogs to choose the right varieties of vegetables and then carefully plant, water, and nurture the seeds into a bountiful harvest, it’s the same with the metaphorical seeds we plant. Unfortunately, we can’t just scatter them willy-nilly and wait for our perfect life to unfurl. We have to make calculated decisions and take action.

My very first egg from my small flock of hens
Right now, however, I’m not sure what actions to take. Do I start with the chicken or the egg? Do I move to a city or town that I think might feed my soul and then find my dream man, or do I find the man and then move to where he is? Life is full of big questions like these; however, only when we hone in on what we truly desire and take steps in that direction can we reap the bounty. When you plant seeds, they may grow differently than you expect, but their fruit only exists as a result of your initial actions of planting and tending to them.

As we approach the season of new beginnings, what seeds will you be planting? In what ways will you nurture them?

The harvest of Delicata squash from my garden

Nurturing Baked Delicata 

While we make plans to plant seeds (both actual and metaphorical), use these cold winter nights to pull inward, nurture yourself, and replenish your energy for the powerful new beginnings ahead.

There’s nothing quite as warm and comforting as winter squash. This recipe for Delicata squash is simple but very satisfying.

Delicata squash (plan 1 to 2 halves per person)
Maple syrup
Saigon cinnamon (also called Vietnamese cinnamon)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash the squash and then cut in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Judiciously drizzle with maple syrup (they’re already pretty sweet on their own) and sprinkle with Saigon cinnamon. Bake until soft and slightly browned, about 1 hour.

Delicata squash growing in my garden last summer
Baked Delicata