After class one Tuesday night I grab some tea from the main house’s dining room and head to my room. I know where I can steep this tea. There’s still light out, it’s only 8:30, I’ll still be able to make my way around the summer kitchen. Living off the front room of the summer kitchen not only am I blessed with an amazing view but I also am extremely close to the area that I knew so well my first summer here. Managing the summer kitchen in 2010 was a great experience. I remember one day late in August making rose hip jelly. Swami Jyotihananda had said it was her favourite and me, unaware of the fact that one is supposed to wait until after the first frost to collect and process rosehips, wanted to make her some. The colours were absolutely stunning. I had this sieve full of rose hips that I was washing and chopping, working into becoming jelly with some green apples from the orchard for pectin. That day I ignored the fact that, as a commercial kitchen, using unreliable and immeasurable pectin like that of unripe apple skin was not very appropriate and simply made some jelly. It was one of my last days before heading back to Alberta for a few months. If I remember correctly the jelly was way too hard but it was a lovely day nonetheless. As were all days in the summer kitchen.
I’ve spent many hours in that summer kitchen, making up songs as I jammed with friends – made jam that is -strawberry, raspberry, and, a favourite, Saskatoon lemon. I’ve broken a few jars of cherries, dipping them into boiling water and cracking under the sharp contrasting temperature change no matter what my efforts to prevent it. I’ve spent a lot of time there. And somehow, even though it was now years ago that I was in there every day, I still have this sense of familiarity. I know that I can grab some tea from the jar in the dining room, walk over to my room for my teapot, and put water on the boil. I know where the dishes belong or, at least, where I would want them to belong if it was my kitchen – where it would make the most sense to me to have them. And I know that I need to clean up every scrap so the critters don’t get too adventuresome.
This sense of familiarity is a blessing. I call upon it to navigate through my days when I come up against things that I don’t feel the same sense of ease. In hatha this morning I lifted up my spine in a new way. This way had to do with expanding the ribcage and opening the heart in a supported manner. While there was strength there physically and in my muscular and skeletal system, it didn’t feel like strength emotionally. Some sort of stretching that felt as if it were pulling at my heart, not wanting to be exposed to the open air, to light and breath was being opened. I’ve been relying on my breath in a new way lately, acknowledging it as this close friend that is with me always. It can remain steady and strong in the most difficult of situations, like a hatha class where I am feeling tension and constriction. I continue to breathe into it, encouraging it out so that I can get to know it and it too can become a friend.