Right now the world around me is focused only on what is essential. I’m acutely aware of what this is for me, and rather blown away and grateful for how much there is in my life.
I think each of us defines essential our own way. These are my essentials.
Sophie’s Cuppa Tea in the Village down the hill where I live is still open to sell tea “to go” as well as tea leaves. This is the finest tea shop in the world. John and Xiaobei, the two owners, travel to China every year (except this year), to remote and even isolated villages, where supremely dedicated farmers with ½-acre farms, so small, no pesticides ever, grow the most delicious teas in the world. I have a white tea from a tree that’s 2,000 years old and another from a bush that’s 300 years old. You can taste the ancient wisdom and robust health in each of these teas with every sip. These teas are essential to my mornings. I start my day swooning with delight.
Running is considered essential by many here in California and I agree, I do it every morning. Filling my lungs with the freshest air from our tree-filled trails and streets.
You won’t find this in the news, but I consider Spring essential and the first day of spring began this week. Yay! Celebration!
Also essential is my neighbor’s abundant jasmine that I pass on my run to become intoxicated with the fragrance that sends me to heaven. A couple doors down, another neighbor’s wisteria (photo above) also sends out a heady fragrance I consider essential.
My many wonderful neighbors (I have awesome neighbors) who are reaching out to help each other are essential to my well being.
My rich red rhododendrons are blooming and the azaleas are beginning. My fuchsia is celebrating with a riot of color. Oh, are these ever essential!
If you’ve been reading my blogs, you already know I consider my three cats, lovely beings with soft, soft fur, who communicate exceedingly well, and who are extremely affectionate, essential. My cat, Jazz, comes and washes my face around 3 pm every day. The best exfoliation I’ve ever had. Munchkin loves to sit on the computer to make sure I get my priorities straight (petting him). Zaiba sits on my shoulders, wrapped around my neck as I work. I find purring essential, and only wish we humans could do it too. Wouldn’t that be great!?
The extraordinary farmers’ market open every Sunday in my Village is also absolutely essential. Their super fresh, organic, vibrant produce, oranges, almonds and pistachios are absolutely essential. Also essential is each conversation with the farmers (I love farmers) where they tell me how the fields are doing, what time they picked the kumquats, when they think the asparagus will be coming. These conversations nourish my soul as much, or more, than the delicious soups I make.
I consider Steve Sando’s Rancho Gordo heirloom beans totally essential. Thankfully I can order them online. Señor Sando has completely spoiled me for any other bean. Their Ojo de Cabra bean makes the most delicious bean broth in the world and you can eat these beans just straight with their broth. All their beans taste 1,000 times better than any other beans I’ve ever had. Here’s an article from a skeptic who didn’t believe Rancho Gordo beans could be that good who took it took it to the test: https://thetakeout.com/canned-vs-soaking-dried-beans-which-better-rancho-gord-1841421154?utm_campaign=2020%20MAR%204%20%28J2QCTU%29&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Highly%20Engaged%20-%2030%20Days&_ke=eyJrbF9lbWFpbCI6ICJpbmdyaWRAdHJhaW5pbmdzdWNjZXNzLmNvbSIsICJrbF9jb21wYW55X2lkIjogIkpFVWhYTiJ9
And, speaking of farmers, one taste of the incredible bursting-with-flavor collard and kale growing on my patio (thanks to a dear friend and co-worker who surprised me by planting them) will tell you they’re essential.
While we’re on the topic of food (I love real food), essential is my Sprouted Steel Cut Oatmeal. You probably know that steel cut oats are much better than regular oats, but did you know that sprouted oats have 10 times the nutrients of regular oats???? You can taste it – they are delicious! I load them with cinnamon, brown and golden raisins and goji berries. I get the One Degree brand (it’s the only organic sprouted steel cut oatmeal I know of) on Amazon (of course I consider Amazon essential!!!!).
Friends are essential. Great conversations are essential. This is Cristina, one of my best friends. Cristina is one of the smartest people I know. She speaks 4 languages too. I love every one of our fabulous conversations. Cristina, my friends, are essential.
Books are, of course, essential, and I am positively loaded with enough reading (fiction, non-fiction, history) for the next couple years! I love that saying, “It’s not hoarding if it’s books!” I have them everywhere! So many great places to sit and read. I love communicating with extraordinary people and reading surrounds me and fills my world with some of the best.
Poetry is essential. Little Worlds by Louis Alan Swartz is the most uplifting recent book to come along – try to stay depressed, cynical or dismal while you read this – impossible! Here’s the link for it: https://hugohousebookstore.com/product/little-worlds/
I’m also acutely aware of the things I consider vital, that even with all the changes, have not diminished at all. My ability to help, my ability to communicate, the incredible team of special, special people I work with (so essential!), my ability to reach you given all this wonderful technology that we have. All there. Strong as ever. All essential.
I consider music absolutely essential. Demonstrating great intelligence, it has been deemed that my favorite radio station, KCSM, is essential. Specifically, I wake up around 5 AM and enjoy the serenity of emerging dawn and then sunrise as I work with a cup of tea, listening to John Hill (who I hope is back soon). I also greatly look forward to and enjoy when, at 6 AM, Alisa Clancy comes on with her show Morning Cup of Jazz. And Clint Baker with his Breakfast, Dance and Barbecue show Sunday mornings at 6 am is a never-to-be missed exhilarating experience. I almost can’t believe a show this good is on so early on Sunday mornings. KCSM has lots of other fabulous shows including Crazy About the Blues (Friday nights), Rhythm Retrospective and Annals of Jazz (both Sunday evenings).
Someone who has been essential in my life since 1973 is the singer Maria Muldaur. She first recorded Midnight at the Oasis all that long ago. Many people have not followed her career and don’t know that she has recorded 41 albums filled with absolutely fabulous music. I’m extremely lucky because she lives in the Bay Area and frequently performs live. So I’ve been listening to her and going to her concerts for over 40 years. She is uplifting, funny, powerful, inspiring. Most of all, she’s a GREAT singer and she’s timeless. My kind of hero. Her live concerts are the best. She is essential.
And so, I give you a link to one of her songs, one that’s especially relevant today, called My Sisters and Brothers, written by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead who sang it many, many times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzZiY2DuSbo.
And I wish you many, many beautiful essentials in your life too. I would love to hear what they are, so please feel free to write back.