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fits and starts

lentil salad

I left on my run this morning five minutes earlier than usual. It was like stepping onstage before the appropriate time, too early for an entrance, out of turn. The high schooler I often see racing across the street toward the bus stop was just leaving his house. He was walking at a normal speed; perhaps he was early today, too. Near my favorite bakery, the old man had not yet turned the corner as he went along on his leisurely-yet-purposeful stroll. He’s on his way somewhere, I imagine. Ahead of him for once, I didn’t have to call out to alert him to my passing. And the boy in the black jacket that faded into the darkness all those winter mornings past, he was on an entirely different street. He nodded, polite obligation, as always.

It was comforting, somehow, to find that all of these people have morning routines as established as my own, that their front doors slam behind them at the same time each day, as does mine, try as I might to leave just a few minutes earlier. Yet it is a peculiar intimacy, too, knowing details of strangers’ lives.

But despite the familiarity — of the streetlights that change with a rhythm I have memorized, of my consistent pace on these early morning runs, of the cracks in the sidewalks I know to avoid — I felt change stirring, quiet, insistent. Spring is coming, but she stutters, lending her warmth in gasps and fits and starts. We wait, ready. But this morning, the cold wrapped its fingers around my wrist, around my hopeful heart, an unwelcome intruder. I pulled my hands into my sleeves and thought about the coffee that would soon be brewing.

As I ran, I heard a quiet ticking and turned to see the helicopter seeds on the sidewalks tossed up in my wake. They fluttered gently back to the ground, and I remembered how enamored I was of them when I was small, their perfect arches instructing them to hover and drift in the breeze, elegant, the way I’d like to be.

Green Lentil Salad

Recipe/method my own

Cook some French green lentils (or Puy, or black Beluga), which so gracefully hold their shape, in salted water, the ratio of water to lentils at three to one. In twenty to thirty minutes, the lentils will be firm; drain them well. Put them in a bowl, and throw in some greens and chives and lots of fresh herbs (parsley and/or mint would be nice). Add tomatoes if you, like me, caved when you saw the hothouse variety show up at your local grocery. Or, add thinly sliced radishes instead. If you want to be proper about it, whisk together a vinaigrette of olive oil and red wine vinegar and perhaps a clove of garlic or a shallot, minced. But I must tell you that I sometimes just drizzle the oil and vinegar right into the mix, and I will hold nothing against you if you do the same. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, some capers if you’re fond of them and, if it’s on hand, a bit of feta or crumbled goat cheese.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature alongside your main dish, or with good bread and a big hunk of cheese, and, might I suggest, a glass of wine.

with emilie and ben

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