During our Skype call last night, my daughter Molly suddenly says, “Mom, I want to tell you about the dinner I made for myself tonight!” She is grinning through her entire description of sautéing just enough vegetables for one, improvising a simple sauce while cooking some noodles, then sautéing everything together with some added shredded chicken from a cooked piece she had leftover in the fridge, emerging with a satisfying and yummy one pot meal for one. She punctuates a few times with, “just like you do Mom!”. Big smile. Of course I am sitting there listening to her satisfaction of creating a perfectly proportioned meal while still feeling very full, maybe even overly full, from my own one pot creation eaten that evening. I share with her what I had made in my cast iron pot, half a chicken breast and a drumstick floured and browned in some olive oil, a small cut up onion added, then two medium potatoes and two medium carrots cut in large chunks, some canned plum tomatoes and their juice, a generous pour of the Malbec sitting close by, salt pepper and dried basil, bring to boil, cover and simmer until the meat falls off the bones. In the generous amount of sauce created, I add a small handful of lemon pepper pappardelle, cover again and let everything finish cooking to mingle, filling the house with comforting aroma.
A simple chicken stew to remember. Certainly enough for two. But I push past my perceived limit and surprise myself by eating every last drop. I am full, but surprisingly not too full. Still, I am watching myself getting ready to judge myself for the quantity I just consumed.
It is a feeling I remember from earlier in the day out in the woods with Nora. Moving at a snail’s pace, noticing that this is what seems to happen when I get here, each step is heavy and aimless. So different from the months of morning walks in the woods with Nora earlier this year that were characteristically filled with the energy of body moving vigorously. Now, I walk a bit, slowly pick up a few dry sticks to put in my bag, sit on a stone by the brook, watch Nora romp, and soak in the beauty around me. I see a potential photo to take everywhere my eye lands, frame a few, take a few.
What is the limit of pictures of trees and rocks and water that I can take? Clearly limitless. I realize each day will require a slightly different fill, and with this awareness, now allow myself to snap away. I wander further than usual, all the way to the stone wall that marks the edge of my property.
My heart is so full! It is all so much to take in, this expanse that is an extension of my living room. I feel the limit of this fullness, and consciously, continue, to allow for more. Now I am looking through the layers at the edge of the property to one of my neighbors, just barely discernible,
And then though the layers that separate me from my own house.
Wandering back toward the brook, I find myself in a clearing that no photo can capture the feeling of. I am surrounded by trees and the sound of water in a perfectly protected and private center. Disorienting because it is such a big space! I don’t have to gather, document, see, or do anything. I can just be here. I stand still for a few minutes. Recognizing that my limit for being here is short in this moment, I continue on with the resolve to come back and occupy this place more fully. Smile.
Shining light on the practices that nourish, whether it be with food or silence in meditation, I see how pointless it can be to have a preconceived notion of what a time or limit should be. This only brings judgement along for the ride.
When following the heart, there is no limit…