friday feast: a soothing bowl of comfort for tough times

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” ~ Jimi Hendrix

tablewindow
photo by Sharon Auberle

Syria. Shootings. Shutdown. Stand-off.

What to do when your government is broken and the world has gone mad? While everyone duked it out in public this week, our neighbor Jack quietly battled for his life in the privacy of his own home.

Jack was a writer and a recluse. Fourteen years living next door and I may have spoken to him three times. Amidst the din of discord and crazy agendas, foreign wars we’ll never understand, and a brand of racism and intolerance that continues to rear its ugly head, we all have our personal battles. Sickness and suffering aside, what saddened us the most was that Jack died alone.

autumn
© 2013 S. Auberle

Looking for solace, I was happy to discover new-to-me Ohio poet and photographer Sharon Auberle. Her poem offered comfort, and her wonderful photos captured the tangible beauty in the world, reminding me how important it is to hold onto yourself by simply doing what you know and what you can, and being present in each moment.

Sharon wrote today’s poem because she was angry:

I clearly remember the day I wrote this . . . it was the day before the beginning of the Iraq War, and all the saber rattling was going on, and I was so so angry and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. So I was making this soup and thinking about how to calm down, and then I realized that dining mindfully and gratefully, really tasting delicious food and wine and hopefully with friends was what I needed. I don’t recall how the poem came to be set in Autumn because it was March, but I would guess that fact falls under the term of “poetic license!”

Do you think we’re angrier now than we were ten years ago? For what ails you:

goodthoughts
© 2013 S. Auberle

HOW TO GET THROUGH A DAY WHEN ALL THE TALK IS OF WAR
by Sharon Auberle

First you notice the mellow afternoon,
with the oak glowing bronze
by your front door and one last bee,
drunk on October and fallen apples,
weaving down your window screen.
Then you might try
frying an onion and lots
of garlic in some olive oil.
While that fragrance is luring
all manner of creatures to your door,
you could puree two cans
of Caribbean-style black beans
with about one half can of chicken broth,
then mix it all together, along
with the rest of the can of broth
to heat through. Add a dollop
of sour cream in each bowl and
serve with red wine, some olives,
a green salad with the hint of oil and vinegar,
and a fresh, crusty French baguette
that you must tear apart in the best spirit
of breaking bread—with an old lover,
or a friend who knew you when.
Alone is good, too, with Bach
and a book of poems.
Then indulge, enjoy, surrender
to this moment that is all there is,
to the bee, the oak, the falling night,
to this prelude of smoky light,
golden against evening shadows…

Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2013 Sharon Auberle. All rights reserved.

holy
© 2013 S. Auberle

* * *

Sharon’s poem made me feel better, and it made me want to make her soup.🙂

I couldn’t find Caribbean stye black beans, but I improvised with regular black beans to great results. The soup was hearty, delicious and satisfying. I followed the steps in the poem, adding these spices gradually until I achieved the flavor I wanted: sea salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, ground cumin. Yum!

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By the by, Sharon’s poem won First Place in the Triad Contest (Food Category) sponsored by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and first appeared in Verse Wisconsin (Spring Issue #102).

To feast on more of her wonderful poetry-photo pairings, visit Mimi’s Golightly Cafe. Is that a cool name for a blog, or what?

Thanks, Sharon — your recipe poem was just what the doctor ordered — it’s sheer pleasure to see the world through your eyes.

sharon
“To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else.” ~ Emily Dickinson

* * *

poetryfriday180The lovely and talented Laura Purdie Salas is hosting today’s Roundup at Writing the World for Kids. Take her a cup of soup and enjoy the full menu of tasty poetic offerings on this week’s menu.

“What Washington needs is adult supervision.” ~ Barack Obama

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Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

67 thoughts on “friday feast: a soothing bowl of comfort for tough times

  1. Oh, dear, Jama. BIG sigh. As you say, “Syria. Shootings. Shutdown. Stand-off.” Sometimes I feel like my heart is breaking, sometimes I just sigh and sigh, then cook up a good big bowl of soup to share with family or friends. And sometimes, I go out and protest. Not sure, lately, which helps most. But thanks for the reminder about soup, and for posting Auberle’s lovely poem.

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    1. All of us are doing a lot of sighing (and swearing!) these days. There’s nothing worse than feeling helpless or powerless to effect meaningful, lasting change. Still, there’s soup, family, friends, good times with loved ones. We have to hold onto what we have, and continue to believe what we believe, and not lose hope.

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  2. You are such a kind and sensitive person, Jama. How sad that Jack died alone, though it does seem that was his choice. Still, we don’t wish that for anyone. And yes, what a mess, in Washington, in the world….senseless, cruel, pathetic. Thanks for this lovely poem, and I will gladly have a cup of your delicious soup- or better yet, a big bowl!

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    1. Jack was a “live and let live” person, and we respected that. His cancer had come back and he decided against further treatment, so that was his choice. Still, he shouldn’t have been alone in his final hours.

      You describe the current state of affairs perfectly: senseless, cruel, pathetic. It would seem so simple: respect human life and act for the good of all — yet it’s so complicated.

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  3. Who knew you could write a recipe into a poem and not have it feel forced! I really enjoyed reading it and I’ll be thinking of soup all weekend now…

    Thanks, Jama.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed Sharon’s poem, Diane. I agree that she did a beautiful job of incorporating the recipe. I hope you’ll not only think of soup this weekend, but eat some too.🙂

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  4. All your words are comforting, each time Jama. When I read Sharon Auberle’s words, I remembered all the way back to the Gulf War and knowing my son was just the right age. I was terrified. The poem is lovely-“surrender
    to this moment that is all there is”, and the pictures as well. I’m sorry about your neighbor, and for your feelings of him. Thank you for all! Soup will be on soon!

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    1. It’s always about war it seems. Glad your son stayed safe.

      Len and I are asking ourselves whether we could have been better neighbors. Jack’s passing took us by surprise.

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  5. Those gorgeous photos make me think of the woods (mine first, now yours) where you live. The trees are starting to turn, the huge poplars, the black and red and pin oaks. And the one or two chestnut oaks still there. Some days it does seem too much to bear and the thought of that man dying alone makes me sad, too. His choice or not, no one should be alone at the end. I love the poem that is also a recipe–I made October bean soup yesterday with fresh October beans (at your farmer’s market) and it is yummy!

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    1. Our trees are starting to turn and it’s so lovely. I was thinking how much noise everybody in Washington is making with nothing changing vs. the passing of a human life (a momentous shift) in complete silence right next door. Jack lived alone, but I’m not sure he chose to die alone.

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  6. Your posts always warm me with their feast of food and poetry–and this one, especially. So sad to hear that your neighbor died alone; so heart-warming to read of black beans and bread, Bach and friends.

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  7. Jama, I am so sorry for this sad loss in your neighborhood. An elderly friend just died and our family took in his canary. Each day I feed Petey the bird, I think of how much Bill enjoyed him. Soup is called for! I hope you enjoy yours as I make mine. The world needs more soup, for sure.

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    1. How wonderful that you’re giving Petey a loving home! And it’s a great way to remember Bill. Happy to hear you’re making soup too — the ultimate comfort food.🙂

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  8. I’m so sorry to hear about your neighbor. But thanks for sharing that wonderful poem with us all. I wish you were my neighbor, and I’d invite you over for soup. And tea. Tea with the Mrs. Bs.

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  9. Oh, James. I’m heartsick to think of your neighbor. It’s hard to respect someone’s privacy and introversion yet find that you missed a moment when you could have been useful. “Doing what you know” and “what you can” and “being present” are indeed the only answers. Pax to you, my friend, and good soup to all. ♥♥♥

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    1. Yes, it’s tough trying to discern when helping, inquiring, or trying to be useful crosses the line into someone else’s privacy, and can feel like an imposition to them. We were pretty much silent neighbors, living side by side with nary a word exchanged (and this is saying something because Len is quite social and can easily talk to anyone). This gave us pause — we didn’t really “know” Jack, but still felt badly, that it was a loss — he was part of the human family after all.

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  10. Ah, Jama, so sad about your neighbor. And the state of the world. I alternate between despair and disgust reading the news every day. But what a comfort this post is — Sharon’s poem and photos are beautiful. And the soup sounds delicious (although I’d suggest using veggie broth in deference to the chickens . . . :> ). Thanks for warming up a gray, chilly day. Big hugs to you —

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    1. Oh yes, despair and disgust — pretty much sums it up. It’s very depressing listening to the news, isn’t it?

      Veggie broth noted🙂.

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  11. I am sending you hugs today, Jama, lots and lots of hugs and doggy kisses from Xena. I thank you for sharing the photography and poetry of Sharon with us. You are always thinking of others. Soup is good solace for the soul. Perhaps I will gather some goodies and make a pot myself.

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    1. Thanks for all the hugs, Margie! Hope Xena is doing better. I think this is a good weekend for soup — Xena will probably help you eat it.🙂

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  12. Oh, this IS a comfort. Nature and poetry/story are really the two best escapes there are, to me. “and one last bee, / drunk on October and fallen apples, / weaving down your window screen.” Sigh…

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  13. There is such serenity in Sharon’s poem, Jama – how lovely to be able to set aside the saber rattling nastiness of the news, for just a moment, to enjoy this:
    “Then indulge, enjoy, surrender
    to this moment that is all there is…”

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  14. I don’t like fighting, which I guess is ironic coming from someone who takes martial arts, but that is more about self-control than fighting. I won’t raise my arm against someone unless they are attacking me. I first defend, then take offense if they don’t stop. I choose peace. I don’t like all of the fighting going on. Families torn apart, not knowing if they’ll see each other again. It’s sad.😦 I feel sorry for Jack too.😦

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    1. “I choose peace.” YES!

      There has to be a better alternative than war, fighting, killing, violence. It doesn’t make any sense at all. It doesn’t solve any problems. There are no true victors.

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  15. Wonderful choice of poetry and photos and you, Jama, setting it all up. I always leave this place feeling nourished.

    I actually discovered Sharon Auberle through Your Daily Poem, and take a peek at her blog from time to time. It’s always nice to bump into the same people through different avenues. It makes the world feel smaller and more neighborly when that happens.

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  16. That is a super poem. Isn’t poetry so therapeutic. *hugs* Jama. It is so sad how bad things are getting in the world and we hear about them instantly.

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  17. Just what I needed. After a walk past Mr. Frost’s orchard and the scent of unharvested apples, it’s good to come to Jama’s house for the comfort of soup!

    (Yay for an Ohio poet!!)

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  18. This is a beautiful poem, Jama. Thanks for sharing Sharon’s poetry and photography. The soup sounds (and looks) wonderful!

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  19. Thanks for sharing that special recipoem. Soup is such a comfort food. I think tomorrow could be a soup day. And about Jack…that hurts, for sure. We don’t want to think of someone passing all alone. But at the same time, we don’t know other people’s hearts. He was not one for sharing the private times of his life evidently, and this was one of those. Do not be hard on yourselves. We cannot force doors open.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You’re right — we should respect the privacy and wishes of others, and there’s no way we could have known what was in his heart. He made a choice — this was what he wanted.

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  20. Thank you for this, dear Jama. All the mean-spiritedness gets me down, too, and a bit of soup and poetry does help soothe my soul. Is it a coincidence that I’ve been making soup like crazy these past two weeks?

    I’m so sorry about Jack. But I know beyond doubt that you are a good neighbor. Sending hugs.

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    1. Our country needs to be dunked in soup, drowned in soup! It’s so frustrating — we are so much better than that.

      In recent days, we’ve seen cars in front of Jack’s house. People taking things out. There’s a light on at night. His car is still parked out front. Sigh.

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  21. Your post was a comfort, even before making the soup. Thanks for sharing the photos and poem and the relaxed and cozy space that your blog holds for us on the internet.

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  22. We can all use this poem during times like the country is going through. Thank you for sharing this lovely piece of writing.

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  23. Your blog is a warmly lit table, surrounded by friends and laden with nourishment. Thanks for shining your light in your own sphere, Jama, which is the contribution we each can make, and surely the one that will make a difference. By the way, we picked Japanese persimmons yesterday — I made a pie and thought of you!

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  24. Thank you for recognizing just what I’ve been feeling lately, Jama… minus the neighborhood tragedy of course.😦 I’ve been trying to stifle my anger for two weeks now, since the shutdown began. Thank you for helping me to set it aside for awhile and think about soup instead– the Mother of all Comfort. Next stop: the grocery store for chicken stock and potatoes.

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    1. I think we’ve all been trying hard to stifle our anger — hard to believe our country has come to this . . .

      Enjoy your soup and have a nice week despite the grrrrrrs🙂

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