Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Intro, Day 3: Finding My Groove

I am now getting into the rhythm of Intro. I love rhythm, whether it's the seasonal cycle of weather and plants or Middle Eastern music that makes me want to dance. I think it might be my Cancerian self, ruled by the moon and her phases, that makes me so. Whatever it is, when I hit my stride, it makes me feel confident and more energetic, full of ideas and ready to take on a challenge--or at least to keep moving forward (those of you doing Intro may understand how hard it can be to just keep at it at times).

Today I felt truly in my GAPS goove. I woke early (for me) and was fully awake--there was no way I was going back to sleep, as I usually might. I got up with energy, had my lemon water and started a new soup. I heated some ginger tea to hold me until breakfast (because of the thyroid medicine timing--I'll write about that in one of my next posts), heated my breakfast soup, organized supplies for the day.

Each Wednesday Blondina (our youngest), who is homeschooling, goes to Tribal Edge, a primal arts training center about 40 minutes from our home. We carpool with friends and today it was my turn to drive, so I planned to spend the day on the land, five acres surrounded by national forest and tribal lands. Usually I would run errands in the closest town, but today I thought I might enjoy four hours with nothing I must do--pure luxury!

Previously, when I have stayed the whole day, I brought sketchbooks or reading and kept mostly to myself, allowing the kids to interact with Ben (Tribal Edge's director), the land, themselves. Today was different, and very sweet. I toted my big dutch oven with the oxtails and neck bones that had been cooking since the early morning to the land, along with thermoses of ginger tea and chicken soup, an onion and some salt. I would finish the soup in the outdoor kitchen on the land, with some foraged greens and fresh air.

Part of the outdoor kitchen
I opted to start the soup on the propane burner and go gathering, instead of having the kids build a fire--they had other things to do at the moment. I felt like someone out of another time, traipsing past the woodpile and compost pile toward the edge of the woods with my basket and clippers. I noted the blackberry canes leafing out (promising fruit in August), abundant vanilla leaf, lush dandelions in the clearing, vibrant nettles all around. Dandelions and nettles were what I was after, and I quickly filled my basket to the brim with the pungent fresh greens (nettles smell almost peppery when freshly cut).

I should interrupt this narrative with an aside: yesterday I was flipping through Gut and Psychology Syndrome and excitedly noted that Dr. Natasha had included a recipe for nettle soup! How had I missed that during earlier readings? She even includes nettles on the list of therapeutic ingredients for juicing! Oh man! I have to tell you, I have an almost romantic relationship with nettles. I crave them, adore them, they feed and energize me, and every so often, if I am not gentle and mindful, they lash out. Just like a lover. Somehow, having Dr. Natasha's approval is almost like my mom telling me my guy is o.k. with her.

Nettles may be the ideal spring food. As if having fresh greens after months of cabbage were not enough, add to that the incredible nutrition and tonic attributes, the delicious taste, the emerald green, the aroma (mmm, sorry--I mentioned that already!). How can I explain the healing, whole-ing, experience of gathering the perfect food and preparing it for myself and to share? I get to wander in the dampness at edge of the woods, in the sun and the drizzle, in fresh air, listening to the eagles, crows and other birds rejoicing in the Spring. The plants, the air, the creatures all communicate, and I have the time to listen. I do get stung on occasion, which is a great reminder of where I am--and that I am.

Ah! Nettle Soup...
Into the bubbling soup go the nettles. When they wilt, I retrieve them and chop them finely. I add the chopped dandelions and taste for salt. And then I do what I do best: feed us all. Mmmmmmmmm.

P.S. Greens are actually hard on some people's guts, so, as with most vegetables on Intro, each of us has to decide whether we are ready for them. I have been eating nettles for weeks, have no diarrhea, and cooked the greens well, so for me this worked. It might not be o.k. for everyone on the third day of Intro!

And speaking of the nitty gritty of Intro, I added an egg yolk today, so I am on Stage 2. (See Baden's blog for a very thoughtful discussion) No issues that I detected, though I did get a bit irritated when my 16 year old daughter (The [cooking] Professional) monopolized the head (our bathroom) for so long that we all got off to a late start this morning. Some irritations are for cause!

All in all, a lovely day! Aside from nourishing food, it was filled with much laughter, companionship, and fresh air. What more do I need?

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