¡Bienvenidos a La Cocina del Cañón!
(Welcome to the Canyon Kitchen!)
My apologies to any readers who have been missing me lately– I’ve just been having way too much fun to write! As Kiva and Wolf prepare for our Herbal Resurgence conference this weekend, I’m giddily reclaiming my new outdoor kitchen from last nights rainstorm and erosion. I’d always loved cooking outside on a campfire, but couldn’t possibly have imagined how much daily joy I would get by having a covered Cocina with a view of the cliffs and open to the wind, equipped with antique stoves and draped with fairy lights. Since my early articles in SageWoman magazine, I’ve been telling folks about the importance of nourishing and treating ourselves, and how that benefits from having our own personal “sacred” space — whether a special room dedicated to that, or a special spot in the garden. My new Cocina has become much more than a lovely place to cook, it’s also my “sanctus sanctorum”, my parlor in which to meet and cook with friends, and verily the center of my physical and magical world!
Watching it being planned and built has been totally amazing! In the beginning, Dan’l, Wolf and I talked about the outdoor kitchen being a simple little 8 x 8 lean-to, with room for a little propane camp stove and a counter, just enough to get me out of the heat of the kitchen on those really hot summer days. Well, then our dear Trail Boss got all excited to tell me about this wonderful antique wood stove (a gift from Dan, by the way) that had been just hanging out on his ex’s porch, that he would love to see “finally get some use” ! I just about fell over at his description of it! Then, one thing led to another as things tend to do around here, thanks to Wolf and Danny’s enthusiasm and vision, and a whole lot of help and funds (thank you Kiva!) and now, several months later, the outdoor kitchen, or “La Cocina” as I like to call it, has blossomed into a 16’ x 16’ living area complete with not one but two antique stoves (propane and wood), counters, giant sink area equipped with an impressive antique white enamel cast iron double sink! and a gravity fed spout!!! a table area and chairs, and even a spot for our beloved Singer that was Wolf’s grandma’s! There are several solar lights, including some lovely little strings of blue lights that magically come on at dark and remind me of morning glory flowers. And Wolf ordered me some lovely orangey paper lanterns that make the solar lights all extra pretty and glowy!
How I so love to be out in the fresh air and canyon light, watching the birds butterflies and lizards, feeling the wind on my skin as I cook! It’s so wonderful when it rains, feeling the warmth of the woodstove and the chill of the rain at the same time! It’s such a thrill to me to transfer bowls of hot water into pots, feeling the rising steam as rain drops dance a few feet away, or to knead the next day’s dough in the glowy light of evening, and to watch the shadows grow amongst the mountain tree tops across the river. How I love to make coffee for my beloved ones in the early morning while wrens hop amongst the amaranth and tiny lizards scuttle across the kitchen floor! My lovely hand fashioned floor is made all of canyon stones gathered by Dan and Don and helpers, and I have to tell you, one of my greatest thrills about the new kitchen is being able to THWACK sticks that are a little too long against the floor! (no doing that indoors!) Spilling water on the floor is much less of annoyance outdoors, too, but we must be much more careful not to spill any food or sweet liquids, or the ants will throw a party! What a joy it is for me to get to watch so many of the changes and events in the day– the moving clouds, the shift of the sun through the sky, the flocks of swallows that sometimes come at dusk to fill the sky with their careening dance. To celebrate visits from wandering caterpillars, moths and praying mantis with the simple joy of stopping what I’m doing for a moment to give them due admiration. I love imagining growing old in this kitchen, and imagining the accumulation of so many sunsets and monsoon rains, so many big pots of soup, loaves of bread and pies, so many piles of wild plants gathered, processed and consumed! I celebrate the joy of so many years ahead of me (hopefully, that is!) I will spend embracing the beautiful processes of life, and the cycles of hunger and fulfillment, in this place of so much life and beauty.
It’s been so much fun stripping the plants we’ve been harvesting with our helpers at the big table, teaching them about preservation methods, making sauerkraut together and brining grape leaves for the winter. Everyone’s been working hard on all the projects and hauling wood and doing lots of cleaning and organizing around here and I like to reward them with “tiempo en la cocina” -“kitchen time”- whenever we can fit it in! We made wild mint pesto and ginger-mint curry paste yesterday, and a few days before, we pickled devil’s claw fruits and canned them. I love seeing everyone take pride and joy in learning new things and putting their new skills to use. It’s great to be able to ask someone to tend the wood stove fire, or check the bread in the oven, or to saute a panful of onions, and for them to feel like they know what they’re doing. Most of the folks I’ve been teaching have been taking notes, some have been making their own cookbooks. Evangeline told me yesterday how she plans to teach her kids someday from the book she’s making now. How that warms me little heart! And she plans to make her own outdoor kitchen someday, too!
I hope that everyone who reads this might gain a little spark of inspiration to create a space for themselves that nourishes their soul, whether it is a place to dance or stretch or make art or music or to take inspired naps, or share massage, or to cook! Whether it is outside or inside, or some combination of the two. Make use of your inspirations, and of whatever resources you can muster together. Make use of any potential help, and give something back in return! This is just one more way that we as a culture can nurture wholeness in ourselves, and in each other, and to learn and practice the best of what it can be, to be a human in this magical world. Making special spaces for ourselves, and for each other, is truly a worthy use and gift of our time, that ends up benefiting everyone around us. As of course, the more nurtured all of us feel, the more we can be present and response-able in our everyday lives, and that is truly a gift to us all. I give my most profound thanks to every person who has helped make my dream kitchen come true, and for the love and support of all who celebrate the efforts and results!! May this inspiration I feel each day, help “jump start” you with the will and power to make your own dreams, and dream spaces come true!
Blessings and love to you all! –Loba
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