Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The World's Not Falling Apart (Dar Williams)

Okay, how much do we love Dar Williams?!? - rhetorical question... :-)

Below is her latest blog post on MySpace - zippity to a new CD in the works!

Foodie By Default
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Dar Williams

Fleisher's is an old-fashioned butcher, which is a very modern thing to be these days. They sell local, antibiotic-free, pasture fed meats. Our neighbors spearheaded a group order, and soon after, I drove an hour up to Kingston for a pick-up.

I mentioned to my husband that I'd gotten 3/4 of a pound of ground beef, and he said I should find a recipe from Marcella Hazan's Fundamentals of Italian Cooking. I snorted and looked around for the other wife he was talking to.

But then, "Dar," I said to myself, "You need to honor these farmers and this cow by cracking open that cookbook. And Michael gave you that book, too, for your birthday." I decided that for political reasons, I really had to be a slow food person, if just for one slow night.

We had all the ingredients for the Bolognese sauce, including (sign from God) exactly 3/4 pound of "not to lean" beef. The sauce needed "at least" three hours to cook. I had three hours of business calls I could make.

My taste buds have always been blunt instruments at best, which always worked for me. My travels require that I adapt to everything. I am very good at talking about local food, praising other people on their sustainable lifestyles, and then getting on a plane, Starbucks mocha in hand as "brunch".

So all this time in the kitchen really freaked me out. Past cooking failures and "I should be somewhere creating something invisible, yet permanent, like ideas" aside, I followed the recipe. And it was so great.

Then I tried the parsley lemon chicken. Simple. Michael gave me some tips, and it was better the next time. I tried other recipes from other books.

Then we started a neighborhood garden, and I found I wanted to spend my afternoons there. This all coincided with having less gigs and more time at home. Every evening I went out to the garden with a big colander. We made dinners with one box of pasta and everything else from the garden.

We had garden meetings, and even though we didn't really talk much about gardening, I found out a lot about my neighbors and where we live, which was also new for me. I knew my neighbors when I lived up in Rhinebeck, but discovered at the Christmas party that I was known as "the one who didn't rake." In my defense, that was after the fall Green World tour of 2000. But the truth is, I was never a raker. I was never there. In Rhinebeck, my neighbor said, "I renovated your house. Put a thermometer in it, so I can check the temperature from the outside in the winter. If those pipes freeze, I'll kill you."

What was I, twelve years old? No, but I wasn't the thing that lots of adults were, either, a gardener, a cook, a neighbor.

Now I rake, and simmer, and console, and all that. For the five months up to Thanksgiving, we walked to the farmers market every week. It was a total scene. Michael met his Pilates instructor there.

We harvested our last lettuce on November 6th and broccoli a little later. I have a screen saver of my son running along the garden fence with an enormous zucchini under his arm. I felt like an imposter when I put it there. But that's not a rental son, and we did find that zucchini under a giant leaf in our garden. At a cafe, I heard some Hudson Valley gals talking about how they cook all the late crops, like turnips, potatoes and kale. I moved closer. This amazed me. I'm the one that edges away, explaining to myself that I exist to affirm these people, not to be one of them. I don't offer recipes. I offer validation.

Then I heard an audio book of Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, and it was all over, or, I should say, another layer deeper. A friend described this book as "the book that people read and then they raise chickens." I'm still enough of a traveling musician that I'm encouraging other people to raise the chickens.

But I did get out to Veritas Farm with my neighbor, Felice, on a rainy Tuesday before Thanksgiving, to pick up the pasture fed turkeys I'd ordered. It was a beautiful drive through the dripping forests of the Hudson Valley, and I love Felice, and I also bought a pumpkin for pie. A real pumpkin. The abstract carbon footprint that I think about so often was right there with the muddy footprint at Veritas Farm. They were almost the same size. Well, at least I feel like it would take only two planet Earths to support my lifestyle, not the three I learned about one late night, checking out my life on the "carbon calculator". So many people have lived like this for decades, I know. It's a beautiful way to live! And I know that many vegetarians could point out that there's one huge thing I could do to reduce the hypothetical space I'm taking up. But for once, walking the walk really involves walking, not just buying, writing and praying, so here I start.

Usually I write about the last few months of gigs. As you can see, I couldn't get there this time, even though I'll never forget walking around the rainy streets of Salem, Massachusetts before a gig in Newburyport where the promoters snuck me up to the soldiers' attic hideout during the Revolutionary War. The itinerant life is also beautiful.

Oh, and so is the studio life! I recorded a new album, with producer Brad Wood, in January. A great experience all around. The songs are about crop rotation. Just kidding. They're about humans, as usual.

I'm going to be all over the place in the spring and summer, so I look forward to visiting your local scenes, and, yes, affirming them, but also coming from one myself.

Here comes the sun!

POEM: Hope by Czeslaw Milosz

Hope is with you when you believe
The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
That sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
That all things you have ever seen here
Are like a garden looked at from a gate.

You cannot enter. But you're sure it's there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange new flower and an unnamed star.

Some people say we should not trust our eyes,
That there is nothing, just a seeming,
These are the ones who have no hope.
They think that the moment we turn away,
The world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
As if snatched up by the hands of thieves.

QUOTE: "A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger father with a bigger fist. If an omniscient, all-powerful Dad ignores your prayers, it's taken personally. Hear only silence long enough, and you start wondering about his power. His fairness. His very existence. But if a world mother doesn't reply, Her excuse is simple. She never claimed conceited omnipotence. She has countless others clinging to her apron strings, including myriad species unable to speak for themselves. To Her elder offspring She says - go raid the fridge. Go play outside. Go get a job. Or, better yet, lend me a hand. I have no time for idle whining." ~ David Brin

No comments:

Post a Comment