It's the tradition of the season to enumerate the things we are thankful for and look back reflectively over the year. And Breatharian, we have so much to be thankful for. The garden wasn't what I had hoped for, but we had abundance in other areas. The fields and friends provided us with the herbs and medicines that we would need for this sickly season. There's been enough of what I foraged and put by to meet our needs, as well as share. While we were sick, there was elderberry and elecampane and ginger and such enough to take care of everyone. Even Tool Guy submitted to my ministrations, though he was much more...erm..."vocal" about the taste of the tinctures than the Hobbits. Inured and acquiescent to the things I demand of them, they merely produce delicate shudders, chase it with something yummy, and then get on with their day. When the cough started to settle into his lungs and remind him of The Plague, he asked me to start lining him up for the noxious nostrums with which I badger the Hobbits. He affirms that angelica is probably the nastiest medicament that has ever crossed his lips, albeit the most effective. The coughing is almost gone. The Flu Fairy came and went and we are recovered, unscathed by the visit. Much to be thankful for.
This year was the year I dedicated myself to the pursuit of herbs. An opportunity for formalized instruction and experience opened up a floodgate of information and exploration. I've never known seven months to fly by so quickly. My 25th wedding anniversary gift. Thankful for the apprenticeship. And the twenty-five years.
The Hobbits thrive and mature and astonish us with the amazing things they think of and say. As I scroll back through previous years, the years we spent in The Abyss, it comes home to me how normal our life has become, even if perhaps other people don't look in on us and see normality there. Only when there are stray infractions do we have to deal with extended sturm and drang dramas over the way a pair of socks fit--or don't. Or the way a pair of shoes fit--or don't. Or any other instance in where the planet seems inappropriately aligned with the universe. Things we used to deal with daily, even hourly. There's very little that I wouldn't do to achieve this level of serenity. So very much to be thankful for.
Bug continues to explore his enthusiasm for art. His current focus is on perspective drawing. He was barely satisfied with the sixteen books that I schlepped home from the library on the subject. The librarian and I agreed that our family needs a dedicated shelf on the reserve stacks. Princess has become an avid reader, which adds to the groaning weight on those stacks. We're getting ready to invent a bogus family member or five so that we can add more cards to our collection. Twelve holds and fifty books per card times five for three weeks at a time is hardly enough for a house full of bibliophiles. I remember a day when I worried about Bug ever being able to read fluently, let alone for enjoyment. I remember the anxious trips to the speech therapist and the inch-by-inch grasp of phonics. Now he reads as voraciously as the rest of us. Dog and I are plowing through the list of required reading for his Literature class this year and it raises the opportunities for some interesting discussions. Ever so thankful for these blessings.
There are pickles in the fridge because a friend shared the abundance of her garden, which flourished in a state of benign neglect this summer. She also shared the abundance of some pear trees within her stewardship. Since we still have a bounty of canned pears in our basement which still come up to visit us in the form of pear butter muffins, I decided to do something different with these. Mom and I were talking about how the Hobbits had enjoyed the cherry pie I'd made, when she suggested an idea from my grandmother, who made these as a great treat for the family.
Gluten-free pie crust
Approximately 4 cups pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup water
4 T maple syrup, vegetable glycerin, or sweetener of choice
2 t cinnamon
3 T tapioca starch
1 lb lard or palm shortening
In heavy sauce pan, cook pears with cinnamon and sweeteners until soft. Dissolve tapioca starch into water and pour over cooked pears, heating until tapioca starch is thoroughly cooked and is opaque and thickened. Allow to cool. (The crust tends to be harder to handle and disintegrate when filling is warm.) Assemble pie crust ingredients. With a ball slightly smaller than a fist, roll out crust between two sheets of wax paper to about the size of a small plate. Removing the top sheet of paper, place a dollop of pear filling (1-2 T) in the center and fold the bottom sheet of wax paper over in order to close the crust. Pulling away the bottom sheet from half of the crust, bring the edges of the top and bottom crust together and gently roll up until edges come into contact with the filling. Gently flute edges with fingers or fork.
Heat lard or shortening sufficiently for deep frying. Picking up the pie still in the sheet, roll it onto a spatula large enough to support it. Very. Carefully. To. Avoid. Splashing. Roll the pie on the spatula into the heated oil. Fry for three minutes or until crust is brown. Remove from oil and allow to drain for a minute before placing in plate. Can be sprinkled with powdered sugar or maple sugar while still warm.
The Hobbits were ever so grateful for these! Even Dog, who swears he doesn't care for pears and originally didn't want to eat any. It was fortunate that I'd made "extra" because after he caught the tendrils of steam rising from the plate, he decided they might be worth trying. By the way, "worth trying" = instantaneous evaporation. Bug and Princess inhaled theirs. They might have tasted it somewhere in the process, but I'm not sure. Heh.
Doing without foods certainly makes one thankful for their return. This year, we reintroduced walnuts and--except for Princess--all manner of beans successfully. I think that in all of these Breatharian years, the thing that I've gained that is so precious, but so unexpected, is an attitude of thanksgiving. Struggling through this journey has changed me in ways that I never anticipated and even now cannot fully articulate. But as I sit and ponder it, the most compelling emotion I feel is gratitude. Gratitude for relentless generosity, support, for mercy, and for grace. As much as it has harrowed and winnowed me, I'm thankful to have gone through it all and wouldn't have missed it for the world.