Monday, September 8, 2008
Mountainside With Caterpillars
I haven't been posting as often lately - I don't know what it is really; perhaps a bit of not-much-going-on-ness or even a bit of heaviness in the air. At times, stuff just pours out of me, other times...not so much. Then last week, I read this post and ding ding ding - I finally had a diagnosis: an emotional hangover. Not from anything specific really, just from a lot of little things I've picked up here and there - little pieces of baggage I'm programmed to pick up and carry for others. Emotional hangover, yes. I checked Pfizer's website already, by the way, and there is NO new pill for it. And no matter how many aspirin I take or who I call in the morning, there it is - this lingering emotional hangover.
Luckily, we live right at the base of a mountain (a Phoenix "mountain", that is) near a trailhead of miles and miles of hiking. Upon these trails, I sometimes lose that hangover for a while and - I SWEAR - the "writing" just POURS out in my head, just CRYSTAL CLEAR - and I get home, sit down to type it out - and what comes out is this: bleh, meh, blergh. It's gone. So, either my memory is shit - or my mind is creating its own fish tales. But still, those trails are an inspiring place.
On Saturday, I went on a long hike and about 30 minutes up the mountain I came upon what I can only describe as a "caterpillar migration". These caterpillars were yellow and black, ranging from about an inch long to three inches long - and there were hundreds and hundreds and HUNDREDS of them on the trail. I've never seen anything like it. All headed in one direction - downward-ish, north-ish - but I don't know where, exactly. I kept hiking - well, tiptoeing now, for the next quarter mile - with no visible end to the caterpillars.
Eventually, I decided to turn around because I was just too worried about stepping on the little creatures during their important journey, and tiptoeing wasn't proving especially enjoyable either. It was interesting to notice the other humans on the trail - some, like me, were also marveling at these little creatures - even taking pictures. Many, like me, were stepping carefully. Were the caterpillars aware we were stepping carefully for them? Probably not, but we did it for them anyways.
Am I always aware of those who step carefully around my path? Definitely not, but they do it for me anyways. I just want to say thanks, man - I try to do the same for you, even when you don't notice.
And then there were those who just trampled along carelessly, not bothering to notice whose path they might be trampling, traversing, crushing, altering, obliterating. It was right then I realized where my emotional hangover was coming from, where it always generally comes from, usually. Human bulldozers. And, until someone makes a good pill for them or for us, we're totally stuck with the kind of humans who trample everyone's paths, you know? Frickin' caterpillar smushers - they are dead to me. And they give me the worst damn hangovers. And by the way, here's your baggage back - because it's just not mine to carry for you - nor for all that you smush out there in that world of yours.
So, I went for another hike today (Monday) and only saw a few caterpillars on the trail, but looked around at some of the foliage - and sure enough, I found some of them hangin' out on the Ocotillos and other desert foliage. Why they were ALL traveling in one spot, on one day, in one direction, at the same time, I've no idea - but it was a pretty cool sight to see, and I kind of cherish it. Man, they can ORGANIZE.
To further "melt away" my emotional hangover - bad pun warning - I decided to make some freakin' perfect looking late-summer cookies I recently saw from Martha Stewart. Tony loves the taste of lemon-lime (IF I can get him past chocolate, that is) - so when I heard the title Lime Meltaways - I was sold, almost purely on metaphor potential.
[See the bit of lime zest inside the cookie? Heaven!]
These are just a lovely, lovely cookie. They are like a meltaway shortbread with a light taste of lime. They're slightly sweet and buttery - yet, they're very light and easy, and they definitely have a "meltaway" quality. Many people suggest this as a holiday cookie as well, and I could envision adding any flavor to this recipe such as almond, cinnamon, cardamom, or whatever. I brought them into work, of course, and *boom* - they were gone and lusted after (guys really seem to like lime, anyone notice that?). They're quite darling little cookies too - great for a party.
3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 c. powdered sugar
finely grated zest of 3 limes
2 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. + 2 T. AP flour
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. coarse salt
Using electric mixer, whisk butter and 1/3 c. powdered sugar in bowl on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, vanilla - mix until fluffy. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt - add to butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a log 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and have baking sheet lined with parchment. Cut logs into 1/4-inch thick rounds and place slices on baking sheets 1-inch apart. Bake until barely golden on bottom of cookie, about 13 minutes, rotating the sheet 1/2 way through. Transfer cookies to wire rack for cooling, 8-10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 c. sugar in a plastic bag (or bowl). Cookies can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. ENJOY!