A Home of the Heart
There are more places to find home than a house; there are certain landscapes, a particular meal cooked by a particular person, a nostalgic smell on a light breeze, seasons that call you back to
yourself. There are communities to become the beams of your home, well-treaded walks where you hang your hat, Friday dinners to be a roof over your head, wildflowers that come back every year to decorate your walls.
We moved a few weeks ago to a new home. We didn’t move far, a mile or a mile and a quarter. We didn’t want to go far; didn’t want to give up the home we’d built in our tiny hill town from these apple trees, friends’ milk cows, the patch of summer daisies where the road curves before the turn. Didn’t want to give up the drive past the Dutch belted cows that drink from a small stream that glimmers if you pass by in the right light, or the maple syrup an old neighbor has been making each spring from these trees over a wood fire outside, the same way for decades.
The night we moved, our pots and pans and spoons all boxed up, we joined our neighbors Brad and Dona for dinner at their home. Brad cooked pasta with beans he’d grown, we grated tomme from their goats’ milk on top. For dessert they apologized that there wasn't anything special to offer - we shook our heads in gratitude for the special meal we’d already been given. We wandered to the garden where fall raspberries still hung low with fruit, filling our basket and listening as the children laughed, plucking them off their fingertips into their mouths. Brad came out with a sleeve of cookies from the back of the cupboard and told us he’d found dessert: put a few raspberries on a cookie and another on top, smash them together. I pressed the cookies together and the ripe berries fell into a jammy puddle inside, the flavor sweet and simple and perfect. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a better dessert.
We took our basket of berries home, to our new home, where I made sure the toothbrushes and bed sheets and pajamas were unpacked and instead of opening another box, I found the sugar and set to work turning a few cups of perfectly ripe fall berries into jam. Jam to spoon over my oatmeal and yogurt as we woke each day those weeks with boxes to unpack and new corners to consider, jam to hang up like a wreath on our new front door.
The boys and I went out to gather rosehips from the bush outside our new house, medicine for cold months, a first offering from new land to its grateful inhabitants. We can see the old mountain from the backyard, a different way of looking at a view we’ve known for years. We stood by the river that runs across the narrow road, knowing it carries the water we used to splash in on the hill. It’s the same water and some new water too, joined together and moving forward, unhurried, fuller, more complete. It winds east and slips from view, its next turn hidden from where we stand. We bring in the rosehips to dry inside by the wood stove. The smell of squash soup simmering on the stove mingles with an apple cake spiced with cinnamon baking in the oven. It’s the sort of smell that feels lovingly familiar, recognized from each of the last many Octobers, the sort of smell I wonder if my children will remember when they’re grown, the kind that fills the heart with a sense of home like fresh flowers on the table.
Curry Kuri Soup
1 medium-large red kuri squash
3-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
About one tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons (more or less to taste) curry powder
4 cups vegetable stock
Splash of cream or full-fat coconut milk
Salt to tast
First, roast the squash. Heat your oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the squash in half down the center and scoop out the seeds. Rub
olive oil all over the inner flesh, and sprinkle with salt. Lay the
squash facing down on a baking sheet and roast for 20-35 minutes until
the squash is completely tender.
Allow the squash too cool, then separate the flesh from the skin and
purée the squash until smooth.
In a soup pot over medium low heat, add about three tablespoons of
olive oil. Add the onion and carrot and cook about 8 minutes until
onion is translucent. Add the garlic, rosemary, a heavy pinch of salt,
and curry powder, and stir together. If you’d like, deglaze the pot
with a splash of apple cider vinegar before you add the squash.
Add the squash purée and the stock, and stir together. Bring to a
simmer and then allow to simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or more
if you’d like.
Taste to adjust salt and curry if desired, and stir in a splash of cream.
Serve hot with a pinch of smoked salt on top, if you’ve got it.