My dear friend Sarah had an enchanting post today about May Morning in Oxford. It’s a pageant I’ve always longed to witness, and one which Philip and I have promised ourselves we’ll experience in person one day. Reading about it in her words, luminous with her joy, made my heart ache a little.
But I’ve had a blessed May Morning of my own this side of the Pond, a little personal celebration of warmth and awakening. My day began, not with Latin exultations and choir-song, but red-winged blackbirds, the hymn of the sea, and the incense of salt marsh. A long, day-dreamy bike ride and a thermos of good coffee comprised my ritual, and a dip into a prayer book gave voice to my praise. For after a winter of exile, I’ve returned to my Island–and in returning, as always, I recover a part of myself which I leave behind each time I go back to the mainland.
That part of me is safe here, for, despite the encroaching evidences of an upturning economy on a seaside location, this place never really changes; my desperate prayer is that it never will. We made a careful, almost breathless, circuit of our beloved haunts yesterday, taking note of the smallest updates and alterations. (Philip has to remind me from time to time that some of my favorite elements were once ‘updates’.) In all, nothing too troubling; the only real shock was that local watering hole on the historic wharf had been razed. It really was a dive, and the service generally awful–but we’ve made some very happy memories there, and I was sad to see it go.
“Nothing endures but change,” I said, gazing at the empty spot on the wharf.
Everything else, on the other hand, is pretty much right where we left it, and we’re so thankful. We had an inaugural picnic on the beach last night of Bahn Mi and a bottle of crisp white, and it was a perfect evening, with a strong, warm breeze, a watercolor sky, and a deserted shore. We sat until it was nearly dark, looking out across the Sound and remembering the days when we ached with longing for what we held that very moment: a month by the sea, a darling little Airstream to call home, and all of it ahead of us.
That’s always the best part to me of any adventure or celebration: the cusp, the sweet crisis point of anticipation. The longing fulfilled yet still tugging at our hearts, pointing beyond itself to a deeper fulfillment, a ‘realer’ realization. The transcendent gift of “now and now and now”; the mystery of eternity locked in the present moment.
That’s a lot of what I hope to be thinking about in the coming month, a theme that’s been occupying my mind and gathering words around itself of late. It’s been a wonderfully busy beginning of 2017, with papers due, writing deadlines to meet, and talks to prepare–scarcely a moment unaccounted for! But I’m excited to say that with the coming of spring I’ve been pondering and praying through a new vision for this site, a polishing of ideals and a sharpening of values. Without sacrificing an iota of old-fashioned sensibility, I’m very much inspired to refine this space in a way that will make it more focused for me, and, hopefully, more useful to you, dear readers. It’s because I know you’re there and that you care about what happens here that I’m emboldened, not only to keep writing, but to steward my little corner of the web with intention and great love.
It’s my goal, like the updates I’ve seen on my beloved island over the years, to make this site more itself, not less. And it’s for that reason that I’d love to hear from you in terms of what could make it easier to navigate, and what you would enjoy seeing here.
In closing, here’s the recipe from last night: easy, Paleo-friendly, and even better the next day (I’m eating it now as I type, and I can vouch for this). You don’t have to make it in a 24-foot camper or eat it on the beach, but it sure lends itself well to both!
Airstream Bahn Mi
1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced in 1/2 inch medallions
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 Tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 large bag grated cabbage and carrots
2 cups finely chopped English cucumber
3 green onions, minced
3 Tablespoons each of mint and cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise*
3-4 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
The day before you plan to serve it, marinate the pork in the fish sauce with the black pepper and garlic.
At serving time, heat a skillet with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, and sear the meat for 3-5 minutes, until done. Remove from the pan and slice into thin strips. Mix the mayonnaise and the lime juice in a small bowl, then combine with the vegetables and herbs in a larger bowl. Toss in the pork, and top, if desired, with finely minced jalapeño. Salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 4 generous helpings (or dinner for 2 with leftovers for lunch!).
Serve on Melmac plates, preferably in view of the sea.
(*I made my own! By hand! On a camping trip! Sorry, I’m inordinately proud of that mayonnaise, especially considering how easy it was… 😉 But, oh my goodness, it was so delicious. Homemade mayonnaise will make this dish, if you have a few extra minutes to prepare it!)