Little Good Things
It has been a frigid, wet, busy spring. Just one freezing cold evening baseball practice amidst waning sunlight, and I’m already exhausted and ready give up. This is my least favorite time of year in New York. The weather couldn’t be worse. The cold is bone chilling, without offering any of the burrowing warmth and cozy ambiance of winter. And for extra credit mindfuckery, February in New York City was warmer than March.
Thankfully, there are just a few weeks more to go. So I am grasping dearly to the little good things. I even uncovered a few this week that are new… to me, at least.
Slow Nature Fast City
File this website under “the literal vortex of my wheelhouse.” Sometimes, someone just speaks to you. Traci from Slow Nature Fast City speaks to me. Slow Nature Fast City is her “love letter” to the natural beauty that can be found in New York City. As a stressed New Yorker living in a typical state of frazzled discombobulation, I’m always thirsty for people who can pull me out of my rushed orbital default and aim me at all of the free beauty that’s just there for the taking.
Slow Nature Fast City is joyful and refreshing, reminding us to notice the gifts that we pay so dearly for with our urban existence. Traci offers practical tips for weaving nature into your city life, as well as great suggestions for destinations and hidden treasures around town.
Perspectives like Traci’s are important. Most people who live in big cities have a love-hate dynamic to contend with. We know basically why we live here and have a general sense of what is good about it. But we have lots of deeply detailed and thoroughly particular feelings about what is bad. We need someone to remind us very specifically about all the little good things that will, ultimately, set us free.
I assume that I’m the last person in the world to discover overnight oats. There’s a little Korean “French” bakery in Koreatown, where I work, and I have had their overnight oats on an IV drip. I can’t stop. They are a revelation. I love making hot oatmeal, especially with a super quick blueberry compote, but overnight oats have this pleasing chewy texture that I cannot get enough of. It’s like a magical intersection of oatmeal, granola and muesli.
At $4.50 a pop, my oatmeal budget has taken a hit. Finally, it dawned on me that I should be making this at home. Why didn’t anyone tell me that overnight oats are not only the most delicious thing in the world, but also the most easily prepared thing in the world?
You just put some old fashion rolled oats together with the some milk (or almond milk, etc) in a jar, add a pinch of salt, and a little something to sweeten, like agave or maple syrup and leave in the fridge overnight. I threw in a dash of cinnamon and some fresh blueberries to recreate my Korean-French-Korean obsession.
There are a million overnight oats recipes that the internet would be delighted to tell you about. This healthy, homemade breakfast is made infinitely more delicious with the knowledge that there will be no hard-to-clean pot as your sacrifice to the oatmeal Gods.
And the final bonus: not only is this 20 times less expensive to make at home, I have eliminated the plastic cup that it comes in from my trash stream. This is a little good thing that has had me doing mental high fives with myself during breakfast.
Finally, my last little ray of springtime sunlight…
Every fall I plant bulbs, only to endure the spectacle of little horticultural abortions each spring. Most never see the light of day. A few will start to come up, but they are killed by dog pee and not enough room to grow in my tiny tree bed. Or whatever other sad reason they have for their persistent lack of viability.
Being the deranged Pollyanna I sometimes cannot help but be, I continue to plant bulbs in the little patch of dirt around the tree in front of my apartment, which my husband and I have jokingly dubbed our “love tree.” To the pained eye rolls of all our friends and neighbors. (It was planted a year or so after we were married.)
But last year, I finally gave up and admitted that, unlike our marital bed, the love tree bed could neither produce, nor sustain life. It was sad. The love tree is often the focus of our small acts of rebellion in the face of newcomer zillionaires on our block. We carved our initials on it one cocktail-y summer night. We’ve hung all manner of decorations, bird seed and other detritus on it, claiming it for our own, even though owners, we are anything but.
Well, something awesome happened this spring.
The universe, as it so often does, just when I need it, has thrown me a bone. The bulbs I planted the autumn before last, which never amounted to so much as a green shoot, have sprouted up. Not in the love filled, yet equally dog pee filled tree bed, but in the planters in front of our apartment, where I also make my overly optimistic attempts at urban gardening.
Not sure why this took an entire year and a half. Clearly, I know nothing, John Snow, about gardening. But I am not asking questions. This beautiful flower, which popped up through moss my son and I collected, is on the very brink of opening. And inside of it is every hope and dream I have for life, beauty, happiness and spring.
Dear Linda, Don’t give up. -The Universe
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