Winter is loosening its long, cold talons, even here in the mountains. As we say goodbye to March, the familiar feeling of change is in the air. Daylight lingers a little longer; the damp earth smells pungent of decaying leaves; snow turns to a soaking rain during the day.
Through the rain-splattered window, the snow has dissolved into soft, muddy earth rolling down to the creek. Sparse, brittle grass pokes up through a thick blanket of pine needles. The sight of a lone Northern Flicker woodpecker on the block of suet we hung in December makes me sad. Just a few weeks ago, dozens of birds were perched in the surrounding trees, queued up to take turns at the bundle of fat, berries and seeds.
Further down, by the creek, where naked branches of willows gracefully arch over the rushing creek, I spy swollen daffodil buds, but as the sun sets, the cold flurries back with occasional snowflakes. One boot of winter remains firmly planted. We’re somewhere in the middle, waiting.
Like the daffodil buds, I’m not quite ready to unfold myself from winter’s solitude in this house. Strangers are buying our home down in the Bay Area, and I’m still holding close the memories it holds.
This is the first home my husband and I bought together, nearly nine years ago, before we got married. We chose new paint and carpets together, a painful process that we now laugh over, and it was our first kitchen to share with friends and family.
The patio out back took two tries to get right, and I still remember the day we told the contractor we wanted to pound it all out and start over. Who knew the iron in the stone would rust so dramatically overnight, sending bright henna streaks across the stone to stain the grout, which was an inexplicable pink. It reminded me of punk rocker chick hair.
And this is the home where my little Sheltie, Shellie, lived out her final days. She’s painted into a mural in our entry. I still see her everyday, like a touchstone, and don’t want to leave her. Not yet.
Like the season, I’m stuck for the moment, somewhere between bursting into our new life, and wanting to stay wrapped up in the one we’ve built. But just as spring is inevitable, so are the changes in all of our lives. I know all that – and I’ll get moving soon. But just for a little while longer, I’ll stay still. And wait, while winter packs the last of its bags.
Winter Salad of Kale, Cabbage and Blood Oranges with Tahini Ginger Dressing
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Before launching into spring, I have one final winter dish to share. It’s hearty enough for a light entrée, but goes well with pork chops or a tuna steak for the non-vegetarians at the table. I marinate the pork or tuna in a orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a little olive oil for 30 minutes before cooking, and reduce the marinade simmering for 15 minutes on the stove for a sauce to pour on top.
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- pinch salt
- 4 cups kale (I used dinosaur kale)
- 4 cups cabbage
- 1/2 Serrano pepper, finely minced
- 1/2 large carrot, peeled
- 3 blood oranges, peeled and sliced horizontally
- sesame seeds
Combine the miso paste, tahini, honey, olive oil, juices, and fresh ginger in a small bowl. Whisk to combine, and add a pinch of salt to taste.
Wash the kale and cabbage, and remove the thick central stem from the kale leaves all the way to their tips. Stack the kale leaves and thinly slice. Thinly slice the cabbage. Place both in a large bowl.
Add the Serrano pepper.
Using a peeler, slice long, thin shavings of the carrot, and add to the bowl, along with the blood oranges and a sprinkling of sesame seeds to taste.
Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving, and toss thoroughly.