This winter has been just about near perfect…as far as New Hampshire-ite winters are concerned. We had much anticipated winter fronts sweep over our region that sprinkled with gusto wonderfully thick snowflakes that drifted and settled into downy piles blanketing our softly rolling hillsides.
Winter has been filled with serene landscapes on par with Ansel Adam photographs. Many days we woke up to a winter wonderland piled high with snow that made bundled up colorfully mittened children and equally bundled up outdoor skiers… happy indeed.
Not many complain about winter and all that it entails around here. New Hampshire-ites are a hardy lot and their love and appreciation of the four seasons is spread equally without prejudice. Each season brings a new round of alternative sports and the locals embrace them all with renewed vigor each season.
In the fall, we ordered our cords of wood for the fireplaces and carefully stacked them in criss crossed piles. Throughout the winter months, we pull on thick winter socks and warm winter boots, willingly dragging our leather straps filled with wood, and trundled in and out of our big red barn. These daily chores egg us on to leave the coziness of the crackling fireplaces and get outside for a wintery trek. On some short winter days, the low hanging grey winter skies with their mother-of-pearl glimmering sheen seem to be only a mere arm’s length above an outstretched hand. On other days, the impossibly brilliant blue sky is pinned with pillowy white clouds way up above that float lazily by belying the frigid cold temperatures filling the air with sparkly ice crystals.
Most days are filled with delicious quiet, hot cups of coffee filled with steamed milk, and bowls of roasted vegetable soups. The world and all of its multitudes of problems seems so far far away from us.
Except that the world as we all want to have it be…quiet, serene, and untroubled seems to become more of a facade that tremors and vibrates with the potential to crack with pressure. The pressure that is building in our country continues to percolate and push against the far corners of this beautiful place we all call home. It’s like when you stare dreamily into a crystal clear lake of water. The image is so sharp and true…with only the slightest tremor. But one little leaf or drop of rain from the sky pierces that finely detailed image and slowly, from the center outwards, the image becomes blurred and murky.
That is what our world is feeling like more and more…day by day.
So the facade of our bucolic rural lifestyle is daily punctuated with the ever present static of national and global events that we are no longer capable of ignoring. Never before in our lives have we felt that our future and the future of our children is being challenged. Never would I have realized that my personal interest in the human psychology of and during WWI & WWII would ever parallel much less play out in real time for me to observe up close…as a character witness of the many pieces of literature and documentaries that I have watched with my kids over the course of our homeschooling years.
Do these sentiments, filled with alarm, come across as melodramatic? Are we simply the new contingency of activists recruited from each generation to fight the same old battles?
I find the answers to this question so revealing as well as people’s reactions to the current events that are consuming our daily lives. How people take in information and how they react to situations, lining them up with their own personal experiences, political inclinations, and perhaps ideas of religious theology is a fascinating if not sometimes a rather frightening observation of humankind.
We are all formed slowly and carefully, whether we realize it or not during the experiences of our childhoods. For many, their belief systems fall lock step with the ideologies of their surroundings. For many others, they somehow form differently, seeing the world in an opposing or contrary reality to what surrounds them. I find this fascinating. What makes this so, I wonder?
I find the news draining, often confusing, but also fascinating during this time of angst and disagreement with one another that so pervades our conversations, gatherings, and even movie star events such as The Oscars! Even though we are surrounded by negativity, perceived fake news events, and national convulsions of news cycle alerts that boggle the mind…isn’t it all really revealing to see this perverse nature of humanity in all its glory…glory meaning…the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all!?
It is often disclosing and simultaneously unveiling how open and revealing the world is at present in voicing their opinions about so many issues. Many people comment that they assumed these issues were of the “past” or the issues were “resolved” through historical pronouncements and political legislation.
As much as controversial issues are being played out on the national stage of politics, many of us are playing them out with equal seriousness and passion in our own corners of society. Never before, have I reexamined history so carefully and with a completely renewed lens of scrutiny. From the arguments supporting military strengthening, to immigrant concerns, to threats to personal liberties for minorities (including women… and I can’t believe I am including women!)
I find myself re-examining and more and more for the first time examining…historical readings of similar accounts of the the Civil War, Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, as well as documented reactions to the founding of programs like Medicaid, NATO, and the European Union. It is startling to hear those grainy but passionate voices of support or dissent from decades old news reels and film documentaries being so similarly echoed today. Same passions, same arguments…different time period.
Is it true what so many analyses say about history “repeating itself“. Is it true that each new generation has to be taught the importance and significance of all the mistakes and missteps that were made by the previous generation? Personally, I always doubted that was true. I assumed people were horrified by events laid out in history books thus as a whole call out such potential repetitions.
(Perhaps because I went through history lessons so many times as a homeschool parent, each time the horrors of war and mistreatment of groups of people became so stamped in my psyche. The first time learning about war, greed, and death through history lessons as a schoolgirl was a distant memory of memorized facts and statistics from musty old history books. Little did that information seem to relate to my every day world.
But, repeating those history lessons from middle school through high school with my 2 children…introducing documentary after documentary (thank you Ken Burns, PBS, and The History Channel) and visiting historical museum after historical museum must have confirmed for me that we as a humankind learn from the past and “know better” than to repeat the same mistakes as before. Right?
So if the tales of the history books are not told repeatedly, lived repeatedly, made relevant repeatedly…is that how we end up with the current mire of political and social broohaha that we are listening to today? Do my kids have enough understanding of today’s events and the impact they have to our society from what they have gleaned from their years poking into the annals of history?
Do they know that they are now forming the pages of the history books of tomorrow?
This issue above does concern me. I see the hyper inflammatory violence on TV today and wonder how the millennial generation can possibly classify the bombardment of apocalyptic film choices streaming in front of them with the real life issues at hand. It must all just seem like an endless streaming of youtube clips, viral videos, and soap opera like vitriol that is blurred between entertainment and reality.
Well… enough lamenting and philosophizing about the state of the world, the union, the state, and the town. Balance is a key word that has renewed meaning today. As I look out the window and see the wind grabbing hold of the bird feeders and whirling them about in a frenzy and hear the winds roaring over the gushing river below us as the water tumbles noisily over the huge granite boulders jutting up through the river…we realize that staying safely tucked away in our world of bucolic beauty isn’t how change happens.
Change is certainly going to happen…whether we like that change, support that change, or fear that change.
We’ve decided to raise our voices into the fray and join the throngs of people’s voices and people’s actions that dot the pages of history books and are captured in film reels. Action groups, rallies, letters, votes, and voices do matter…even they are coming from the remote quiet corners of small town communities like rural New Hampshire.
Listening also matters. It’s difficult to admit it. Trying to understand various points of view is tough business. It’s so much easier and more satisfying to trample all over them. Where ideology meets policy that can truly mean the difference on so many levels to so many millions of people means the consequences of action or inaction is critical.
But, that being said, listening, at this juncture, is going to be critical.
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup (60 ml) of your favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium beets of any color
- 3-4 large oranges, grapefruits, or other citrus fruits
- 4 cups leaves from chicories (endive, escarole, frisee, Treviso, radicchio, or a mix)
- ⅓ cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
- 2-4 ounces ricotta salata, thinly sliced (or use fresh mozzarella if desired)
- flaky salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a small jar, combine the shallot, fine salt, vinegar, and olive oil, shaking well to combine and dissolve the salt. Store at room temperature until needed, up to several days.
- Trim the tops and tails from the beets and cut them into wedges. In a bowl, mix the beets olive oil and salt and pour out onto a baking tray. Roast at 350F in the oven for 20 minutes.
- To make the salad, cut the top and bottom off of the citrus fruits and use a very sharp paring knife to peel away the skin and pith from the outside of the fruit, following the curve of the fruit. Cut out the segments from the membranes, holding the fruit over a bowl to catch the juice (and drink it!).
- Toss the chicory (or any kind of salad greens) leaves with 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette to coat them lightly. Spread on a platter or divide among 4 shallow bowls. Scatter with the roasted beets, sliced citrus, crushed pistachios, and fresh mozzarella or ricotta cheese. Drizzle with a little more dressing, and sprinkle with a bit of flaky salt and black pepper. Serve right away.