To be fair, I stepped out for a little while. Aiming to stop at home, I weaved through rush hour traffic in the familiar maze I have found avoids construction. I was a mouse behind a wheel, seeking the fanciest of cheese in the way I had been conditioned. Except the cheese was Time, and there isn’t always a whole lot of that. Is there.
The three cars ahead of me will begin to signal a turn. As always, it will not be clear whether they mean to get gas or join the freeway until I have either had to slow too suddenly, or not.
I have heard that the blue whale is three city blocks long, which is about as far away as I was when I noticed. At the curb–a man with legs spread, straddling an office chair. Also, a large bag of chips, getting sprinkled over the pavement as his knees bend and wobble and mould and stand and sit and stretch and step and backstep to drag the chair along with him. It would likely be easier to abandon. Isn’t it interesting to think of the ways we adjust to accommodate unnecessary collateral.
It wasn’t clear until I passed him that the bag of chips was not a bag of chips at all. It was a large, green container with a spout and a tube. Contents unknown; I did not stop. Preoccupations: ten minutes of jammed traffic, fifteen minutes of meditation, and a warm bowl of soup.
Savory steam above liquid dyed orange from fresh turmeric and aleppo pepper. Marked by the odd, peak-of-season speckle– dark, little flecks of fresh herbs / sweet, sunken yellow corn half moons / red, fresh tomato hunks / little, green earth peas, all stirred with the dip of a spoon.
If only we might similarly suspend in our moments of warmth. Ten minutes of brothy quietude, and then the drive back. I do not remember the route I took home that night. I was irritable and I was tired. But I do know I did not see the man with the chair and the fake chips a blue whale’s distance away.
It’s funny how things change when we aren’t looking.
Herby Summer Vegetable Soup
Makes 8-10 Servings
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (optional)
1 large red onion, finely chopped
sea salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh turmeric
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
2 quarts chicken stock
16 oz frozen peas
16 oz frozen corn kernels
1 cup tomato, diced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mixed finely chopped italian parsley and fresh tarragon
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic, if using, and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the turmeric and Aleppo pepper, and then the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until reduced to 6 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the peas, corn, tomato, and apple cider vinegar into the broth and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the mixed herbs and scallions, and serve right away.