Thursday, May 19, 2011

run far. view tulips.

This past weekend was really lovely. On Saturday, I ran twenty-five kilometers with thousands of people through the streets of Grand Rapids and along its riverbank. That fellow of mine ran a slightly shorter distance, but I'm very proud of him nonetheless, because he's awfully fast, and, well, I love him (see below).

The race left me with the sorest legs post-race that I've yet experienced, a very black-and-blue toe (nothing new there) and, for several days, a pitifully slow stair-climbing pace. But once again, it was worth it.
Saturday afternoon, because I thought we ought to pack more activity into a day that began with many-mile-long races, we went to Holland, where we saw tulips in abundance.

They were beautiful.

Life is grand.

And this coming weekend, for the first time since late February, I will not be going on a ten-to-fifteen mile run! Oh, the simple pleasures.

May these spring days, my friends, be full of simple pleasures and the things that bring you joy, whatever those things may be--long runs (or short runs) and tulips and people you love, perhaps, or evening walks on warm spring nights and family and good food and laughter.

I hope that today, from your vantage point, life seems quite grand indeed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

easter part two: sunday comes

During a very long run on Good Friday under drizzling, gray skies, I listened to a sermon preached the Sunday before, the last in the Lenten series of a nearby church. The pastor, in his prayer before the sermon, noted the dark days before Easter and the celebration of that bright day that follows. He prayed, "As we enter into a Friday that leads to a Sunday, we ask you to give us that hope that whatever that Friday looks like, Sunday's coming."

For not the first time, a sermon by this particular fellow had me nearly had me in tears as I rounded Reed's Lake in my well-worn running shoes. As I ran under actual dark skies, my thoughts muddled and my heart weary, the parallels couldn't have been much clearer.

And as much as it never feels true during the dark days, he is right: Sunday comes; it always does.

But those dark days can be so hard. I struggle to get through them with hope still intact that Sunday is on its way.

In these two years since graduating from college, as I've begun my life out in the great big world, if I have learned anything, it is that life is hard. There are dark days, and lonely days and sad days and confusing days and days that are just plain hard. Life entails difficult decisions and reasons to cry and hurting people and a broken world.

But. In addition to being hard, life is also good. It is full of hope and promise.

Sunday always comes.

And so it did that weekend. Following the Good Friday of that wet and dreary run, Easter Sunday came with warmth and sunshine, the physical reminder of Resurrection. Ben and I enjoyed a lovely day with his family, and his sister's twin daughters--two very small people full of simple joy, with yet-unknown-but-surely-beautiful futures ahead of them--further reminded me that there is much for us to hope for.

In my life at present, I'm still rather stuck in the middle of a Friday, waiting for a Sunday. The rain comes and goes, and sometimes blue skies peak through the clouds. Yet a haze covers most of my future, and sometimes I lack even the smallest degree of clarity. But that's okay. I am still happy, and I am hopeful. The sunshine and the answers and the next pages in my story will come.

And for you also, whatever you may be experiencing, I know that those things will come.

There is hope. Sunday is coming. Christ is risen.

So whether you are celebrating a bright Sunday morning or waiting in the dark, I offer you this salad, which is full of brightness and tastes of springtime. This was my contribution to our celebratory meal on Easter Sunday, and, if I may say so, it's quite wonderful. The recipe below provides loose guidelines and makes an enormous amount of salad, so use what you have or can get your hands on, make as much or as little as you'd like, improvise as you see fit and enjoy with people you love.
Spring Sunday Salad
Adapted from Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks

For the salad:
3-6 cups cooked wheat berries (or substitute farro, which to my dismay I never can find, or pearled barley or even rice)
2 cups cooked yellow split peas
1 1/2 cups green peas, fresh if it happens to be the right season, frozen if not
4 large handfuls of mixed salad greens
1-2 cups baby tomatoes
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

For the Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette:
1 orange
1 shallot, chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

To cook the wheat berries, in a large saucepan, combine 2-4 cups of wheat berries with water to cover by at least an inch and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower heat; cover and simmer until the wheat berries are plump and chewy, about an hour. Drain and set aside.

To cook the yellow split peas, place 3 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 3/4 cup of dried yellow split peas and simmer until the peas are tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain, salt and set aside.

To prepare the green peas, boil briefly in salted water. Drain and set aside.

To prepare the tomatoes, douse generously with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven at 350 F until wrinkled and beginning to caramelize.

To make the dressing, whisk the zest and juice of the orange with the chopped shallot, Parmesan cheese, vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, assemble the salad! In a large bowl, toss the wheat berries, yellow split peas and green peas with a few spoonfuls of the Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette until everything is thinly and evenly coated. Add the greens and tomatoes; toss gently. Add salt and more dressing if necessary, toss one last time, place in a pretty bowl or on a pretty platter and top with the feta cheese.

Then, enjoy, my friends--Sunday's coming!

Serves eight or more.