Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eat a Still Life

Still Life by Paul Cezanne
The Augusts of my childhood were lazy days of reading under a tree, fresh tomatoes and corn from the garden and hours of swimming in the village swimming pool. It was our last month of freedom before the routines of school resumed. A bit of that August feeling remains at my core. August is not the month for new starts. I don't want to miss the August perfect days in the yard, at the beach, hiking the hills. There are books to read under the tree and fresh fruit - an abundance of fresh fruit - for snacks, salads and dessert, freeing kitchen time for movies in the evening, leisurely conversation with neighbors and daydreaming.

Last night I asked my granddaughter if she'd rather have a bowl of chocolate ice cream or a bowl of strawberries. No hesitation. A bowl of strawberries.

There were two lean, beautiful, athletic dancers in my 1970s college art class. They had that walk. Their ballet bodies turned heads. They were regal. I remember the blond one snacking on raw almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas while she painted.  "How exotic", I thought.

These two examples have confirmed my conviction to suggest to our readers that for a day, (or a week, or a month), we substitute all snacks and desserts with fresh unaltered fruit and vegetables and nuts. It's August. Simple, portable, fresh is what I'm suggesting. And vegan.

Here are some images to tease you.

You are attending a lecture and you feel your brain begin to fog over. A couple of deep yoga breaths are not enough to revive you. You reach into your briefcase. You pull out a banana and stealthily peel it. It makes not a sound. You tear off a piece. Silence. Into your mouth and down the hatch, potassium, vitamins B6 and C. This is the perfect fruit for those times when you wish to replenish your energy undetected.

You are at the movies. All around you viewers are throwing popcorn, milk duds and gummy bears into their mouths, eyes glued to the screen. You brought a bunch of grapes. You pull them off the stem, one at a time and pop them into your mouth. Same action, different result. No tired, heavy aftermath for you.

You are leaving the gym after a big workout. You take an apple out of your gym bag and as you push open the door and head to your car, you take a big, loud, juicy bite. Sexy.

You are at work. It's break time. Everyone heads to the machines in the break room. You have an avocado and a little knife in your desk drawer. You expertly cut the avocado in half, take out the pit, sprinkle a little salt and pepper (who doesn't have a little salt and pepper in their office drawer) on one half. You look up. Your boss is watching you. You pick up the second half, this miracle fruit that comes with it's own bowl, offer it to your boss and say, "salt and pepper?" Points.

The family is gathering. You bring the fresh fruit. Oh-h-h-h-h.

At the end of a week, your taste buds will think a Snickers bar is a lot sweeter than they remember. At the end of a month, it's possible that the scale will show you've lost a pound or two.

There are other advantages to offering fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts for snacks and desserts. Children can help themselves. They are portable and are easy to clean-up. Most don't require refrigeration. There is an appropriate choice for every occasion - friendly, stylish or exotic.

This is August, the take-it-easy month before the kids go back to school, families come home from vacations and the freeways and shopping centers return to pre-summer flows. August is a month of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and nuts, straight out of the still life bowl. Now that's a memory to nourish.

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