Saturday, May 31, 2008

What One Can Learn From Morels

Morel season is over. (sigh) The growing seasons up here are short and fleeting. Morels this year were available for not more than 4, maybe 5 weeks. Strawberries are on deck. With June beginning tomorrow I am expecting the call any day now from the company that will be suppling me with those beauties. Again, strawberries will be in season for only 4 weeks or so. The short growing seasons are the rule up here and not the exception. If we had access to morels year round they would not be as special as they are. I cannot wait for the first strawberries to arrive because I know I will have to get the most of them while I can before they are gone for another year. I am already anticipating tomato season which we will not see until late July. The lady who supplies with eggs also grows over 40 types of heirloom tomatoes and has promised to get me some when they are ready. But like everything else, their season will be short. Living and cooking in Northern Michigan has giving me an appreciation for the fleetingness of life and the beauty than can only found in it's brevity. I find myself falling into the rhythm of the seasons. I anticipate. I celebrate. I say good-bye as each season comes and goes. Then the cycle begins again anew. It's no great insight that our time here is but a blip on the time scale of the universe. We are born. We live. We die. Our entire lives are played out in a mere fraction of time. Lin Yutang, one of my all time favorite authors, wrote an essay extolling us to live our lives as a poem. To live in such a way that we celebrate each part of the poem and engage ourselves to the fullest while living each part of the poem. The young must be young and do the things youngsters do. The middle-aged must live as middle-aged and the elderly should live the later part of their poem in a way that if befitting their age, quietly reflecting on a full life. My approach to food has taken on the poetry Mr. Yutang suggests and because of this my outlook on life has also been changed. I love morels. I mean, I really love morels. But I am thankful that morels are not here long before they are gone. I am thankful that there will always come a day when my suppliers say to me, "no more." I am thankful that I really never know when that day will be. That some years morels are in longer, or shorter, than the last. I love the uncertain anticipation that accompanies each season. Never really knowing when it will start or when it will end. It is this uncertainty that gives much of the season it's meaning. It's glory. Today I have (insert food), but I'm not so sure about tomorrow. It's the shortness of our seasons up here that make them so beautiful for a cook. It's the shortness of my life that make it so beautiful for me as a human. It is precisely because my season is so short that my life takes on a special meaning. We grow weary of things that last to long. If morels had a 9 month season, they would be no big deal. I used to fear death, but as I have contemplated the shortness of the seasons in Northern Michigan I have began to look as death as yet another part of the season of life. Right now, today, I have. Uncertain as to it's length I am trying to get the most out of it. Tomorrow the suppliers may say, "no more" and so I will begin a new season. Taking a cue from my philosophy of cooking I live in such a way as to allow my life to shine forth unadorned. To let me just be me. To search for the essence that makes my life what it is and let that speak for itself. Like those morels, whose season just ended, I will not cover my life with unnecessary sauces or over-powering seasonings. Like those morels, I am trying to present it for what it is.


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