The air along the greenway is a mixture between city and nature. A thin strip of creek runs down from the pond and spills into the college district of the city. In the morning, runners, cyclists, walkers, readers, lovers, and children soak up the green space before scurrying away to their offices, school, or childcare. I’ve been on these paths for eight years and seen the way change waits for no one. It comes, just as sickness and health, with the speed and slowness that is expected from the things we cannot control. No matter how much we pray to the Gods, sometimes, we just have to wait, in faith, for the universe to make sense of itself.
The other morning, I shared a post on Instagram about my ongoing relationship with melancholy. Distinct from sadness – this is the type of feeling that blankets the universe like kudzu. It’s inherently self-absorbed, I know this, but matters of the spirit don’t follow the rules of logic. And by judging it, I only dig my heels in deeper. Awareness, or the ability to see oneself as you are, has been my best, faulty antidote. The process of waking up to our delusions matters. At least, I have to trust it does. And, as the laws of the universe go, I think this particular awakening carried all the absurdity of being young and uncertain.
There are foothills in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that were charred while I was growing up. On our drives up the mountain, we’d pass by the American River where a forest fire swept through thousands of acres. And each year after, there would be more hills like this – burnt from lighting, a stray campground fire, the negligent flick of a cigarette, or someone manifesting their pain by watching an entire forest burn. When a forest is burning, ash falls from the sky like snow. But when a heart is smoldering, there are more subtle signs of distress.
Fire is often an intangible energy made from one part destruction and one part evolution. It consumes the underbrush and makes way for new life. Jack pine cones sit dormant until a fire melts the thick resin and their seeds emerge, finding new life in the nutrient-rich soil covered in ash. I believe that forests, much like people, are always in the process of becoming.
Last night, Kevin and I drove with the windows down and I could feel the humidity against my chest. The first sign of recovery is feeling. He asked me about this particular episode of melancholy – questions like: what does it feel like? does it start for any specific reason? what do you do to move through it? And I’m grateful, for his questions. By naming its boundaries, I’m able to better identify how far its legs and arms have reached under my skin. Maybe, it was the news, a book I’ve been reading, old scars, a general lack of direction, or maybe it was just my mind going to that place it sometimes goes – into the well of itself.
In telling you this story, I feel the need to apologize for passing on such heaviness, but I’m simply trying to convince you that there is some release when we can name our demons. For me, catharsis involves speaking our truths, be that fact or metaphor. I lean toward the latter. For me, the forest helps me makes sense of my heart.
For now, the fire has passed. I’m here now, with one hand on my heart. It’s not a matter of if this feeling will return again, but when. This scorching has given me the ability to better see the signs. I know that melancholy feels like heavy limbs, shallow breath, and a quiet sky. I know that there is an end to it and in its wake, I’ll find the universe asking me to open myself up again.
Rosemary Nectarine Streusel
Summer is New England, and anywhere north of Sacramento, is about enjoying fresh fruits while they are still in season. The fall is coming and there will be plenty of time for apples and pumpkin, but for now I’m trying to squeeze in all the summer desserts that are available. Baked fruit is my favorite summer dessert, be it berries or peaches. I imagine you could replace peaches in this recipe if you aren’t a fan of nectarines. Either way, the vanilla and fresh rosemary gives these nectarines a sweet, light, and enjoyable summer flavor.
6 tbs oat flour
6 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs coconut oil
2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup roasted cashews
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Wash nectarines and cut in half. Set aside.
- In a food processor, place oat flour, brown sugar, coconut oil, rosemary, vanilla, salt, and roasted cashews. Pulse until ingredients are incorporated. Don’t over process or you’ll get too fine of a mixture.
- On a lightly greased cookie sheet, arranged nectarines and top with 2-3 tbs of mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until nectarines are tender.
“Melancholia is, I believe, a musical problem: a dissonance, a change in rhythm. While on the outside everything happens with the vertiginous rhythm of a cataract, on the inside is the exhausted adagio of drops of water falling from time to tired time. For this reason the outside, seen from the melancholic inside, appears absurd and unreal, and constitutes ‘the farce we all must play’. But for an instant – because of a wild music, or a drug, or the sexual act carried to its climax – the very slow rhythm of the melancholic soul does not only rise to that of the outside world: it overtakes it with an ineffably blissful exorbitance, and the soul then thrills animated by delirious new energies.”
― Alejandra Pizarnik