One of my all-time favorite parts of autumn is applesauce. My granddaddy taught me how to make his mother’s applesauce from scratch (although they threw RedHots, a candy, into theirs to make it pink – I have a different method), and now I’ve adapted it into my own simple treat. If you’re not much of a cook or nervous to try applesauce homemade, this recipe is perfect for you – it’s easy, relatively quick, and fun. When you share it with family and friends for the holidays, they’ll gaze at you wide-eyed and compliment your culinary prowess. Just shrug and smile smugly, ‘cuz you got this in the bag. (Also, they’ve probably only ever had applesauce from the grocery store, which is terrible by comparison, so it’s win/win.)
First: You must select your apples.
Apples come in two kinds: good for cooking and good for eating. It’s not that there’s a huge flavor difference, it’s more of texture difference – apples that are good for sauce are mushier and mealy, and fall apart when heated. Apples that are good for munching raw are crispier and not mealy. (Sidenote: for something like an apple pie, you may want them to stay firm, in which case do not select mealy, sauce-type apples!) It doesn’t matter which one you want to try, it’s just that the stronger, harder apples for eating raw will take longer to cook down and may not create a smooth sauce. But who cares? Experiment to see what you like best.
Are you shitting me? This is a real species.
It’s called the bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) that breeds in Europe and Asia, and then winters in Africa and India. I mean seriously. How awesome is this bird?
That is all.
If I do not create, I feel like I will melt down.
I am bursting every single day with line, color, shape, and texture. My mind spins with ways to fix broken things, make beautiful the battered and unkempt, to take apart, rearrange, reassemble. I want to fix it – I want to make it live again.
I have been told my entire life to “be quiet,” to “stop being so dramatic,” to stop “being so loud.” The thing is, I feel things dramatically and deeply, and I see things loudly that others cannot see.
I see the broken childhood of the woman that threatens to bash her sons’ heads in if they don’t stop blaming each other in the shopping cart. I feel the neglect she felt, the lack of support. She’s still there, hearing the same threats. I feel the uncertainty the children feel about whether they should trust her or not. Is it another empty threat, or will this one pan out?
I feel the trapped, smothered pain of a combat veteran’s mind in the man walking down the street in too-large, filthy clothes. No one can understand what he’s seen, the ways in which he watched his friends suffer and die, and the ways their families suffered and died. He’s still at war, watching it happen over and over again, even if it’s not a solid memory he sees.
I visited a grotto yesterday, an army of holy statues tucked into towering rhododendrons and the dripping branches of trees. I felt the hope and the sorrow and the prayers there, bearing down upon me like a great, weightless cloud, and I couldn’t stop crying. I kissed St. Francis’ feet and left him 53 cents because that’s all I had. I lit candles for those in Gaza, and for those in the Ukraine and Afghanistan, and had to walk quickly away from those candles so I would not fall apart.
I am dramatic because I *feel* what others feel so intensely that sometimes I can’t find my own feelings. I create or I wither. Creation is all I have. Creation is more than a self-soothing therapy, it is a way to transform these feelings and the things I see and the world around me. It is a way to channel pain into joy, and ugliness into beauty.
It doesn’t matter what our passions are, it’s time for all of us to make the solid, conscious choice to find compassion for others, forgive those who have destroyed some part of us, and come together as a world community to take care of those who have less. I find solace and comfort and joy and beauty in nature; maybe you find it in art, or music, or cars, or in your family. It doesn’t matter any more. We must unbend what we have learned and transform into a better, wiser species. This means healing your own pain, which means you must acknowledge it first – you must seek to find it and draw it out, like an infection hiding in your heart. Only then can you rain compassion upon others as though they exist in a desert. I challenge you to do this.
I challenge you to see the true abundance in your life. Abundance isn’t just money – it’s shelter, it’s a loving parent, it’s education, it’s the materials with which to make art and music, it’s having a job, it’s feeling safe. I have very little to give outside of these words, but I feel called to give something away. I create, and that it what I will give away – a piece that only a handful of other humans on this planet have, the first piece I really carved for print, an exploding heart.
It’s 11×14 and just black ink on bristol board, but it’s what I have to give. So write to me, here in the comments, or via email at roamingnaturalist (at) gmail (dot) com. Give me permission to post a piece of what you say without identifying you in any way, and be sure that I have a way to contact you (either via blog or email link in the comments, or a usable email address via email).
Tell me what breaks your heart, what has broken in your life, what heals you, what reminds you that everything is all right and we’re all connected. What does this piece say to you? How can it help you? What fills you with enough hope to go on in times of darkness?
One of you will be chosen to receive it via US mail, free of charge in any way. And then, I’d like you to try really hard to give something away that you have to offer. Something you love to do or make, even maybe this piece of art.
Thank you for reading and opening your hearts. I know this isn’t my typical kind of writing, and I’m glad you’re here.
The very best,
Nicole the Roaming Naturalist
The Curio Cabinet series (#curioTuesday) is published biweekly, featuring an artifact of natural or cultural history and a brief selection of nifty facts. Curio Cabinet celebrates the history of curio collections, the roots of which played a part in the globalization of learning and scientific knowledge. Learn more here.