Tuesday morning, for the first time in a while, I woke up feeling energized and ready to face the day. This comes during week three of working through Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way, which is a fantastic course on getting your head straight as well as fostering creativity.
In it, Cameron writes about the importance of taking time to notice things. “Flora and fauna reports,” is her example, an aunt’s lengthy letters detailing the flowers blooming in her garden, the cottonwood’s leaves, and other snippets of beauty and joy. My ability to notice and enjoy the world around me is one of the things I like about myself—but when I get crazy busy, it’s one of the first things I stop doing. I duck my head and plow forward, trying to survive one day to the next.
So Monday night, I took a break from the endless to-do’s to spend a little time in my garden. Not long: I spent about half an hour watering flowers, pulling weeds, and collecting windfall apples from my lawn to compost. For half that time, I press-ganged my older son into picking apples with me as the sun sank behind the mountains. I got my hands wet and muddy; the smells of crushed mint and sage filled the air from the flower beds; and we ended up with a full compost bin and a colander full of red and green apples.
I spent the next half hour luxuriating in those apples, cutting and chopping (there were quite a few bad spots to remove) and plopping them into a few inches of water in my pressure cooker. I have a great pressure cooker cookbook by Lorna J. Sass, so I turned to it for guidance on how long to cook apples to make applesauce. Instead, I found a recipe for cranberry applesauce…and since I had a wayward bag of cranberries in my freezer, I decided to give it a try. I added one bag of frozen cranberries and about two cups of water to my apples (6 cups or so), brought the pot to pressure, and cooked for 5 minutes (the advantage of a pressure cooker!). Then I put it all through an applesauce maker (a sort of pot with a strainer on the bottom and a hand-turned crank that presses the soft fruit through the strainer while leaving peels and seeds behind), added a few tablespoons of chopped candied orange peel (the recipe called for orange zest, but I didn’t have any), a bit of sugar and a dollop of agave nectar…
And the next morning I awoke refreshed. Coincidence? I prefer to think of it as a sign that I’m on the right track.