Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dying of the Light, and Swiss Chard with Bacon, Corn and White Beans

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas
It's the time of year when I become particularly sensitive to the comings and goings of daylight.  It's waning now: on the mornings when I go running with N. in the jogging stroller, it's still dark when we leave, and if we're lucky, the sun comes up just as we're turning the corner towards home.  We admire it together.  And in the evenings, I drive past fields ablaze with the pinks and oranges of the autumn sky.

Sometimes I go gently into fall.  I love the darkening sky, the gathering dusk.  In my less sane moments, the pagan spirit in me wants to lie in the grass and surrender myself to the earth and the leaves.  But in other ways, I do "rage" a little bit.  Or at least, I feel an unmistakeable sense of loss that I want to resist.

Lately, I've been finding one morning a week (usually the same morning I go for quick run with N.) to have "coffee" with I.  There's an amazing coffee shop near where we live, located in an old pottery factory where the large circular stone kilns are still intact.  I get coffee, I. gets his scone, and we go sit quietly in the stone kiln, where the light is almost ethereal.  Sitting there with him requires me to slow down, to put away my iPhone, and to talk, or just to be silent together.  It feels like something between a temple and a spaceship.  The people at the coffee shop think that our "date mornings" are incredibly cute, and that my son is lucky; really, I am the lucky one.

The other day, at our urging, our son cleaned his room.  It's always interesting to me to see what he wants to throw away, and what he wants to keep.  Invariably, he wants to throw away things I think are prized possessions, and he wants to keep tiny scraps of paper that make his room look more like a hamster cage than a child's space.  Squirreling away the things I think he ought to keep, without telling him, I thought again about this tension between moving forward and looking back, raging against the future, but knowing that there's a limit to the clutter of the past.  The temple and the spaceship, coexisting.

Do you find yourself "going gentle"?  Do you "rage"?  Or something in between?

Swiss Chard with Bacon, Corn and White Beans
There's something about this dish that captures both the summer (corn, maybe?) and the fall (bacon and beans, perhaps?).  You could probably do this as a vegetarian dish by adding something else smoky--perhaps a dash of smoked paprika when you're adding the corn and beans.

1 T. olive oil
6 oz diced bacon
2 cloves garlic
2 large bunches Swiss chard, leaves removed from stems, roughly chopped
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 c. corn kernels
15 oz can white beans (I used small white beans, but any kind will do)
1/4 cup chicken broth

In a deep sided saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the pancetta and cook until crispy. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the Swiss chard, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the Swiss chard, stirring periodically, until it begins to wilt. Add the corn, cannelini beans, and chicken broth, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
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  1. I suppose I'm a bit of both too. I like autumn, I like winter. I'm not really a summery person despite my love of the beach.

    I also am shocked when I ask the twins to clean up and I see what they've kept. We did this exercise last week. The Wolvog is always neat, so clean up for him takes about two seconds. He keeps very little. ChickieNob loves every bit of paper, every tiny piece of plastic. She holds tight to everything. I'm probably more like her while wishing I was more like the Wolvog. I dislike clutter. But I also can't let things go.

  2. Holy cow, that sounds delicious! I love this time of year as the air is cooling down and the light is so perfectly gold in the afternoon. I am not a fan of the time change though, where I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. If I could keep the light just like it is now, I would be happy. Overall, I am much more on the "go gentle" side, if throwing myself in headfirst can be considered "gentle."

  3. Normally I love the changing of the seasons: the first cold that requires me to wear my heavy coat, the first day I can go out without a sweater, the first day that it is so hot I can feel the sun inside my bones, and yes, the first day I need a sweater.

    But this year it felt too rushed. I wasn't ready yet. The first sweater day came and I went out in a tee shirt and capris because I didn't have sweaters and jeans to hand and because I was in denial.

    I thought for a while that it was a sign that I was getting older and the seasons were passing faster. This is what it would be like from now on, I thought. Things would keep happening and I would not be ready.

    But it warmed up again, as it often does in Fall, and I find I am ready, except that I probably should go to the store and get some jeans.

  4. I love fall---the cooler weather, the sense of new beginnings, the way the light & shadows are deeper, but hate the ominous foreshadowing of winter.

  5. Oh, how I would love to be in the temple/spaceship with you.

    Love that pic of your boy in that space.

  6. I love this story, and this ritual. (And it looks like I'd love that coffee shop!)

    Hoping to make this recipe. Yum


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