Prairie Living

God and Poetry

 “But I don’t want comfort. 
I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom,I want goodness. I want sin.” 

Taking my cue from Aldous Huxley, I have up-ended my life, shaken off the familiar, and entered the world of traffic and trains and quaint little houses down the lane. Forgive me for being a bit metaphysical, but it seems, after an exhaustive search for a new place to live, this is where I was meant to be. Whether my reasoning is the stuff born of rationalization or the magic of a mystic cosmos remains to be seen, but after Greg and I watched the possibility of four different mountain houses we wanted and loved appear then disappear against all reason, we landed on what I am, in an effort to preserve some sense of wildness, calling the prairie.  There’s  a garden and spruce and aspen and lots and lots of trees, but there’s also sidewalks and chain-link fences and neighbors within eye-shot, along with the sound of traffic on the highway. 

To me, this is real danger.

I’ve long said my sensibility runs toward silence and space.  And I’ve spent a decade living on top of a mountain by myself, cultivating what I’ve called my cowgrrl ethos.  What this means, I suppose, is that I have learned to do things for myself:  split wood, heat a cabin at 8500 feet in winter, contend with bears and fox, battle the yearly onslaught of mice, live just beyond the easy reach of modern conveniences, meet each day and weather pattern on its own terms—and be lonely. Friends and acquaintances have long wondered aloud about what they think are extraordinary circumstances, but to me, the setting was comfort.  I have found a certain sense of safety in inhabiting the perimeter. 

In moving out of the mountains and in with Greg, I have left that all behind.  Yet, I have the sense of the world calling my name; maybe it’s time see a different face of God.

These past weeks, I’ve seen it in the prairie fall, which has been warm and glorious and blessedly long, after what was a cool and wet summer on the mountain.  My experience of autumn color in recent memory has been preternaturally cut off in late September as aspen leaves fell and I spent days on the mountain or hurried home in the chilly mountain evenings and growing canyon dark.  But down here, Greg and I have eaten al frescoalmost every October night, sipping cava or Modelos laced with lime and watching the light in a sky wider than imagination through elm and apple trees.  Sunday mornings, I’ve made familiar foods:  apple galette and the big pancake, but Greg is cooking too.  Our first week together, he made roast chicken and mashed potatoes, and spectacularly simple and delicious street tacos made from pan-roasted chicken thighs, chopped Mexican onion, avocado slices, cilantro and sour cream.

A good poem is deceptively simple too.  You look at lines leaving an inelegant curve against a white page, but the reading of the words, the journey through the poem leads to a lovely elsewhere not first evident. 

Today I am thinking of the poetry of pizza.

It’s the first thing I served the then city-dwelling boyfriend after nearly two weeks of dreamy early morning emails and long, late night phone calls.  In those days, the world felt as big as the night sky full of stars, and we were at the center of it.  I’ve made the two pizzas we shared that first night—a classic Margherita and one with Gorgonzola and apples—dozens of times as a way for us to celebrate, mark the passage of time, remember, and show love.

Today, as I watch the season change from the lush clay-colored walls of my freshly painted office, I am of a mindful of making something new to go with our new home and life together. Greg and I have a love affair going with the potato, especially when it comes to French fries, so I begin by slicing red potatoes mandolin-thin and tossing them with garlic, rosemary, olive oil and plenty of kosher salt.  Onto a pan and into a hot oven go the potatoes until they are a very firm al dente.  The kitchen smells autumnal, full of earthy garlic and potato tinged with the sharp crack of rosemary. After the potatoes cool, I pull out a pizza dough with my hands (never use a rolling pin or baton if you want beautifully puffed and pocketed crust) and brush it with more olive oil and kosher salt before arranging the small seasoned circles of spuds. I sprinkle a little Parmesan and some goat cheese along with a bit more fresh rosemary before sliding the pizza back into the over.

I pour a glass of cava and wait for Greg.  Tonight, there’ll be God and poetry enough to fill the evening.  

Rosemary Potato Pizza

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