Why do I find it so hard to just relax?
I like nothing better than sprawling upon my hammock, letting the momentum of the tree-to-tree dynamics swing me gently back and forth. Or curling up in the coziest chair, legs tucked under, book-bound and free.
And so, why oh why, do I always resist, letting the must-do’s cloud my brain and rattle around like an imperious taskmaster? It’s a curse.
My good friends Susan and Mary Lou sent me a gift last year, never suspecting, I believe, how very apt, appreciated and pointed it would become. The present was a book entitled – “How To Be Idle” by Tom Hodgkinson, who not only writes with a sharp and enviable brilliance, but cuts through my personal foible with fun and clarity and wisdom.
I read it and laughed. T.M. read it and now repeatedly takes it out and strategically places it beside my cozy chair. Hint. Hint. He knows me so well.
We have had intermittent rain this past week. The kind of rain which thunders in and out of the summer months in Minnesota. Electric and energizing and quick. But today was an all-day, lazy rain. Pitter pat. Soft. Hypnotic.
This morning I occasionally walked the rooms, upstairs and down, pressing my face against the pane, checking the garden. I ticked off the chore list in my head. Now and then. Felt a tinge of guilt and pushed it away.
I did bake bread. But that was a fun, rainy day celebration.
Mainly I curled up and read two books. Both of them, coincidently, on loan from friends who recently made of point of knowing they were “must-reads” especially for me.
Last Thursday, Walt from the Fergus Garden Club handed me a copy of “Putting Down Roots” by Cliff Johnson, a Master Gardener on the Minnesota state advisory board. “I think you’ll appreciate this,” Walt said. He was right. I didn’t stir from my chair (except to punch down the bread for it’s second rise) until I reached the end of the slim volume that is subtitled, “ – gardening wisdom, wit and whimsy.”
Two weeks ago when Richard, my friend from our writing group, heard that I had a passion for memoir, he made a point of driving in from Battle Lake to lend me what he deems the best of the best. And he was right, too. This afternoon I started to read “The Florist’s Daughter” by Patricia Hampl.
What a perfect day.
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The bread too was a winner and also a shared gift. Aunt Verna used to make it but it actually came from Grandma Ingebretsen, her mother. She called it:
BROWN OATMEAL BREAD
Scald 1 cup quick oatmeal with 2 cups boiling water.
Add ¼ cup sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 2 tbsp. melted shortening, 4 T molasses
Dissolve 1 cake yeast (1 T) in ½ cup warm water and 1 tsp. sugar.
Add the yeast and 6 cups unbleached white flour gradually. Knead. Let rise.
Make into 2 or 3 loaves. Let rise. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.
BOOKS AND BREAD! IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER!