Saturday, July 28, 2012

The three graces

Today I went to the Lowell Folk Festival.  At many of the performances, people got up to dance. A lot of little kids did the jumping-around thing that kids do, which was fun to watch. But in front at the stage with the Irish band, there were three girls who had something special.

None of them looked trained, but they were exceptionally graceful. They had that freedom of movement that comes when you have an impression of what trained dancers look like, but you've never had actual steps drilled into you.

My first instinct was to go over to their parents and say, "They've got talent!  Maybe they'll want to study Irish dance or ballet!"

But part of me quailed at the idea of formalizing their leaps and twirls.  I thought of long hours at the studio, auditions, stage fright, eating disorders, bleeding feet.

I watched, in love with their beauty.  They were so free, so confident in their own bodies.  Their grace was uninhibited by any fear of looking foolish.  How can we, as adults, recapture that?

I got up and joined them.  Some other women with bad tans and obvious Irish dance training appeared.  Soon there were lots of us, skidding on the dance floor that was slippery from rain.  We sprang and twirled, slipping, laughing, falling down.

As the band was packing up, I approached two of the girls.  "I had so much fun watching you dance," I told them. "Keep having fun."

Video of these dancers and more from the festival.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Two perfect summer foods

Fresh Pea Soup
Summer soups should not be too cooked. This one isn't.

Chop up an onion and sauté it in butter. Add some broth and some frozen peas. When the peas are thawed, purée it all. You can let it simmer a bit, but it really just needs to be heated through, not cooked. Salt and pepper.

I like it with sour cream, but it doesn't really need it.

Light and airy, named for the ballet dancer. This is the summer birthday dessert of choice in my family.

Make meringue (I used this recipe). Shape it into nests and bake it. You can make one big Pavlova that looks more like a cake, but they kind of shatter when you cut them, so a big one is harder to serve.

Fill the nests with whipped cream and fruit.

These have no flour, so you can feed them to gluten-free people. They would also be a more interesting Passover dessert than plain meringues.

Thanks to Moira Flanagan for feeding me my first Pavlova.

Friday, July 06, 2012

People like us

Today a relative told us about the double jogging stroller another mom had given her. It has built-in iPod speakers. We laughed at the extravagance. But in her wealthy exurb neighborhood, this is the kind of thing lots of people own.

It made me think about who we know. I thought about B. Morrison's memoir Innocent, which describes her years as a welfare mother in a poorer neighborhood of Massachusetts. She writes of how disheartening it was to know only other people without resources, people struggling to improve their lives, people who had given up the struggle.

We tend to know people like ourselves. People with double jogging strollers with iPod speakers know other such people, and welfare mothers know other welfare mothers. When we help only our peers, rich people stay rich and poor ones stay poor.