Curried Celery and Leek Soup...and a 4th Chapter

I leaf through the pages of my life so far and realize they are no longer pages, but chapters now...the edges lovingly frayed from gentle flipping from one page to the next.

Journeying through my 40's is one of the most satisfying decades.  I listen thoughtfully to younger women in their 20's who fret over their first wrinkle or grey hair.  I want to pat their hands and whisper "Life gets so much better.  Just you wait and see".   For me, previous chapters of my life penned scenes scribbled with passages of insecurity.  So many many little experience to draw upon...

Patrick and I drove down to the beach the other weekend.  We needed some decompression time.  We often crave each other's company so that we can just be our goofy selves without any appraising "teen" eyes....or comments. 

Just for a short respite...and then we miss those teens dearly.

Moving through life in our 40's not only unwraps  a decade of reflection,  but surprising anticipation too.  So many words of advice that floated vaguely by now possess sharper clarity.  

 "While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about."~Angela Schwindt.  Quotes like this one have more clarity and depth than ten years ago when they were received with a tolerant smile and impatient nod of the head.

So many chapters have already unfolded but we are asking ourselves ~ what next?  What dreams may come?

During my teens, I trained and dreamed of life as a professional ballerina and have incredible memories of that adventure.

During my 20's I ran my own ballet school while also climbing the corporate ladder in the marketing arena.  Frightened and challenged, again I loved the adventure of it all.

My 30's completely took me by surprise.  I decided to completely reverse course and throw myself into the world of parenting.  Jumping off the safe cliff called "normal" we undertook the monumental leap to  homeschool. Tackling the moral, social, and academic education of our children is certainly the most daunting and greatest challenge of them all.

But what is next?  What will be the next chapter for me?  My fingers are getting eager to hear the soft slide of pages turning.

I am filled with fears again.  I am filled with self-doubt once more.  I am on one hand decisive and driven.  I am on the other hand quite frightened and doubtful.

I am always dreaming.  I tend to dream on capacious levels.  I still hear Penny de los Santos' words from her food photography workshop "Get out there and find your own story.  Don't wait for it to find you".  

My eyes are wide open... I am looking.  What dreams may come?

Walking along the beach is a completely freeing experience.  All thoughts and dreams can be entertained with full absorption.  I look at my husband and I don't see him a day older than when I first met him.  What dreams we have experienced together.

I hope I have instilled in my children the desire to "dream big".  Learning how to cook in this past year clearly demonstrated to them, by default, that their mother is capable of certain failures.  Figuring out my culinary mistakes and turning a dish into something edible hopefully will give them the courage to cope with failure but then push towards success in the future. 

Anything seems possible when strolling along the beach.  The winds whip furiously with complete abandon.  The waves  roll and tumble with determined moodiness.  The saltiness in the air is so palpable that it demands sampling.

Surfside is a small stretch of beach directly south of Houston.  It's not the glamourous beach front mansion section that lines the Gulf closer to Galveston, but a section more humble and remote.

Walking along, watching the seagulls skip along the shoreline, just the two of us as far as the eye can see, offers a soothing balm for the seemingly endless days of work, school...and then work and school again.

We  realize more than ever at this stage, that we are simply holding hands with our children.  We are helping them to pass from one stage of their own lives to another.  We will let go.  They will move on, however, regardless of how much we try to hold tight. 

So, the dreaming begins again.  What are our dreams?  What dreams may come?

I do tend to dream big.  But, I am again searching for aplomb, for mettle and nerve.  What will my options be?

At the beach with a full moon

Curried Celery Soup (adapted from "Soup" by Debra Mayhew)
(serves 4 to 6)

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced
5 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 tablespoon medium or curry powder
1 1/2 cups washed and diced unpeeled potatoes
3 3/4 cups vegetable stock
1 bouquet garni
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs
celery seeds and leaves, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion, leek, and celery, cover, and cook slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the curry powder and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni, cover, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender, but not too soft.

Remove and discard the bouquet garni.  Set aside the soup to cool slightly before it is processed. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and process in batches until smooth.

Add the mixed herbs, season to taste with salt and process briefly again.  Return to the saucepan and reheat slowly until piping hot.  Ladle into warm bowls and garnish each one with a sprinkling of celery seeds and a few celery leaves before serving.

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