A Hush in the Air

Archived | April 20, 2015 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Was pure quiet in the house, and I made some blueberry banana bread, and there was, for a while, only the show and the hum of the fridge, and me. Evenings seem all about quiet these past few days. There’s a hush in the air, full of a contentment that comes with the passing of winter and the appearance of grass.

Except for Norman down the street. Norman is not about quiet. He’s upwards of 80, I think, but looks 20 years younger. Mostly because he is active, I’m guessing. His always wears overalls and a red cap, and his cheeks are pink and his eyes a bright bright blue. And he hollers. Everything. Hollers “HELLO!” when people pass by. Hollers from the garage for his wife, Marian. “MARIAN!! I NEED YOUR HELP OUT HERE!” Hollers for his dog, Ralph, as the neighbor kids head in for dinner. “RALPH! GIT OVER HERE!” On a given day, a given night, rest assured you will hear, several times, Norman hollering.

Now, there’s something to be said for a good holler. I, myself, am a fan of hollering, and do it on occasion when I feel the need. It feels good, and mostly I think it’s a way of releasing stress, perhaps, or an expressing pain or frustration when you miscalculate with a hammer or an open cupboard and the proximity of your head. It’s a way to send a message, but people learn to tune you out. It’s that way for me with Norman and his big ol’ booming voice. He’s part of the landscape, and it’s when I sit down for coffee, rolls and a talk with him that I hear every word he says.

It’s kind of like those billboards full up with words and pictures. Who really pays attention? But slap one small word up there in the middle of all that white space, and people see it. And remember. Worked with the kids when they were young. Once I let go of hollering and waving my spatula, and began requesting, calmly, this or that, they paused and listened. I stopped lookin’ silly to them. Everything changed.

Norman, on the other hand, will never stop hollering. Why mess with a thing if it gets you where you’re going? It’s who he is, and it’s fine by me, bless his heart. As for me, I’ll stick to a calm voice when I want to get a message across, and whispers to make it stick. Mr. Sundberg is a fan, and so are the neighbors, I’m guessin’, if they were to give it thought.

Here’s a light and lovely salad for a spring picnic or a light lunch on the weekend. Blueberry muffins would go nicely, and perhaps a tall glass of iced tea.

Arugula Salad with Strawberry Rhubarb Vinaigrette

1 cup chopped fresh rhubarb
1¼ cup chopped fresh strawberries
3 large shallots, coarsely chopped
1 T sugar
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup canola oil
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
1 bunch arugula
12 whole strawberries, cut in half
4 oz feta cheese (or goat cheese if you wish)

Simmer first five ingredients in a small saucepan until tender, about 10 minutes. Puree, strain into large bowl, and cool.

Whisk in canola oil and mustard.

Fill bowl with arugula leaves, chopped.   Sprinkle with berries and cheese,
and pour dressing over.