The Calm of It All
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was wonderful, really, when you figure in the weather, which has been just right, and the neighbor children laughing outside, and the first leaves of autumn turning out there on the maple, and how lovely the red of apples piled high in the big white bowl on the kitchen counter. Made some apple crisp with those apples, and talked with the kids who called from school to let me know everything is rollin’ along as it should be, and our youngest daughter came skipping through the kitchen now and then, tasting dough and apples slices and shining with her stories of musical auditions and political science discussions, and she showed me a photo of a rabbit swimming — floating, really, quite serenely — in a pond. “This is the most calm thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.
I don’t know for sure what is the most calm thing I’ve seen. The first thing that came to mind was a painting of Ophelia floating in a river, but I didn’t say it out loud. I think of calm as a prairie landscape, as warm water, as the kitchen sounds my mother made when I was a child, in bed, sleeping in or trying to, and the smell of blueberry pancakes and bacon rising up the stairway and through the hall, to my room. I think of calm as twilight, breeze, holding hands, stargazing. Calm is the porch swing creaking, the slow hum of traffic, someone singing a hymn in another room, the even breathing of a napping child.
One thing I love about autumn is the calm of it all. The turning of things, the slow downward drift of leaves and how they rustle as you rake, the gathering, and the settling. Summer felt hot and a bit frantic, if I have to say, though it’s not a complaint, and after the months of glorious rushing about from picnic to cabin to wedding to potluck, with mowing and trimming and trying not to heat up the house with the oven on for much of anything, autumn feels like a deep sigh, a kind of haven, a wooden boat rocking on the waves, creaking, waves lapping, and the sun feels merciful and warm.
Things don’t have to be calm for life to be good, but it sure is a lovely thing now and then, even more lovely when someone young and sweet appears out of nowhere, and has a taste, and says, “I can’t wait for winter, and dang, this is good.”
Here’s something for everyone, at any time of day. Light and flavorful, and you can go salty or sweet, and you’ll find, if you ask, everyone does have a preference. Serve these waffles with some spicy sausage, or top with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or some lingonberry sauce. Or both.
Beer Batter Waffles
2¼ cups flour
3 T sugar
½ tsp salt
6 T butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp orange rind, freshly grated
1 T orange juice
1 12 oz can beer, your favorite
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.
Melt butter and let cool.
Add all remaining ingredients, butter included, to flour mixture all at once. Beat ‘til smooth. Let batter rest a good hour at room temperature. Stir gently before pouring into waffle maker.