I sure feel as though a lot of time has passed since I last blogged here, though in reality it has only been just over a week. Lately, I spend the bulk of my free time absorbed in Alexandre Dumas’ classic The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m about 500 pages in, and the plot seems to have plateaued, though more likely my interest is tapering after so many nights spent in bed reading chapter after chapter of the same book until I fall asleep. As strange as this sounds, I have enjoyed watching the character development in Edmond Dantès — from his initial naiveté to later disillusionment and cunning. The chapters where Edmond endures solitary confinement in the Chateâu d’If are particularly moving, as Dumas depicts Dantès’ mental strife and longing in such realistic terms. When he finally meets Abbé Faria, Edmond finds a temporary solace as he takes great comfort in the monk’s companionship and wisdom, though he still feels the dark stirrings of loss, grief, and a desire for vengeance within, which become heightened upon Faria’s death. The amplification of Dantès’ personal strengths and weaknesses, along with an awesome hidden treasure now his own, gives Edmond’s character a truly fantastic air (see Byronic references in book for further detail).
On another note, all of the sea and treasure imagery within the book have been giving me exciting dreams. One night I dreamed about a ship sailing into a blue horizon, that later dissipated into a flock of white birds that flew toward and melded into the sky. Last night, I dreamed I was wading in clear sea water when I picked up a beautiful blue clamshell that floated toward me. Seeing a clam still inside, I let it go, though soon found numerous other shells as striking and colorful. The dream took a strange turn when a decorative orange and white Chinese soup spoon washed ashore, and I puzzled myself in wondering if it was ceramic or plastic, and in what era it was created. Ha!
Speaking of spoons, and of food in general, I cracked open my copy of Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet this week. I bought my copy at a lucky garage sale many months ago, but haven’t really used it much since. For one reason or another I felt inspired to cook from it this week, and I’m really happy that I gave it a chance. The vegan and macrobiotic inspired recipes seem to be just what I need recently. So far, I have cooked a Moroccan couscous recipe with butternut squash and saffron, a couple of casseroles from different grains such as barley and polenta, and a pressed fresh vegetable salad. The latter is interesting and new to me: first, I thinly sliced various vegetables such as cabbage, fennel, carrot, and radicchio, and then proceeded to bruise them a bit with my hands, to promote enzyme activity. Piling the veg up in a bowl, I then took a small plate and pressed the whole mixture down, weighting it with a full teakettle for about an hour. The result is really unique and palatable. The massaged vegetables are easier to eat as well as to digest.
Outside, our garden continues to grow, whether or not we have much time to play in it. Sunflowers stand five feet tall and about to bloom, chili peppers turn a ripe red on the plant, and a tight, purple skinned eggplant grows larger each day. The days feel so hot, that we do not venture outside for too long unless we are near some shade or water. In some ways, I’m more enthralled with the grottoes of Monte Cristo, and the scenes and costumes of the Roman Carnival portrayed in Dumas’ book. In these pages, I find respite and a different adventure from my own busy days, as sweet as they are.