Sunday, July 19, 2009

Arugula Pesto with Shrimp

Spending the week alone in Maine, I found a natural pace for life.

I hear people say things like this from time to time when they come back from their vacations. You know. You find them at their desks, suntanned and smiling (but not always happy and relaxed), murmuring sadly about how they could have stayed there forever. Isn't it ironic and telling? -- that we discover the way we want to live (or think we want to live) when we step out of our "real" lives and into diversion? What does this say about how we tend to our souls?

My days went like this. Wake up fairly early but not too early. Do an hour of yoga. Eat breakfast and shower. So far, nothing different from any other day, except perhaps for the unhurried feeling one generally has on vacation. But, I didn't just do yoga par usual -- I had the option most days of doing it outside, facing the rising sun. I listened to birds and saw chipmunks gorge themselves on spillage from the birdfeeders. And I could smell the ocean. Then, as I prepared and ate breakfast (a smoothie or blueberry pancakes), I turned on the water heater so I could take a shower and then watched a little television. Yep. There's a cable station that plays The Sopranos pretty early in the day (bleeps all the swears and obscures the nakedness). There's also a French station and a dozen kids' channels, one of which I swear only plays Sponge Bob Squarepants. Yes, I watched Sponge Bob Squarepants. By myself. No one saw me. No one knew until now.
If I didn't watch t.v., I read or planned my day.

Showers are unbelievably brief in the camper, though thoroughly enjoyable. There's a hatch -- like a sunroof -- in the shower that looks up into the sky and really brightens up the space. I could look up and see trees. It was nice.

Next, ride the bike into town or the beach. I would start with getting a coffee -- either in town (Ogunquit) or at the cafe in Wells. One day, I started at the beach, then went into town and did some shopping. Another day, I started in town, walked the Marginal Way, had a late lunch of Maine crabcakes and Caesar salad and then finished the day at the beach.

The beach is about 5 miles from the camper and going to Ogunquit center adds about 2 more miles, so the ride is great exercise. That, some yoga and a little ab work and I was content for a few days. I miss strength training, but I don't miss the obligation. I really liked getting exercise while breathing salty air and the scent of beach roses. Riding past the salt marshes, I watched the mist disintegrate around me, and I actually liked the good-natured hustle and bustle of town.

On Thursday, when I walked the Marginal Way, I had a meditative, creative respite at a lovely vantage point. I texted Seth:

. . . here beach roses,
there sailboats,
in between,

Most of the rest of the day is spent reading or writing. I had lots of creative energy and spent it reading from some new books (2 by Mary Oliver: A Poetry Handbook, Twelve Moons; one collection of short stories by women: This is Not Chick Lit; and Fast Food Nation, which I've never read) and starting a couple of stories. We'll see how they go.

Oh, and I also made Arugula Pesto with Shrimp:

* To make the pesto sauce, combine a large handful of arugula in a blender with a clove of garlic, a handful of pinenuts (or almonds -- that's what I had on hand), some grated parmesan and up to about 1/2 c. olive oil. Blend it up until combined but still a little chunky. Meanwhile, boil the pasta. In a pan, fry up a little prosciutto, pancetta or bacon; add the shrimp. When the shrimp are pink, turn off the heat and pour in the pesto. Pour in the pasta, toss and serve.

There's a cute little market in Ogunquit center where you can buy most necessities -- and by necessities I mean extra-virgin olive oil, bottled water (because the water in the camper is awful), wine and homemade pickles (my father pointed out that they also have Spam, which made us roll our eyes and laugh). There's also another cute cafe and market in Wells, where I would sometimes get coffee -- it also had wine and cheese and pastries. Friendly places with good coffee, where the kids at the counters smile and can tell me where to find a bike shop. After one car ride to the Hannaford's, I knew I didn't want to have to go back (all the fish is farmed, with the ocean spitting distance away. The shrimp was from Thailand!), so I had to plan my days so that I could reasonably carry my sundries from the smaller markets in the bike basket. I got on with no trouble, even on the day when I foolishly brought all four books to the beach.

The hard part was riding back to the camper at the end of the day because the way home has more uphills than down. But it is completely do-able and once again, great exercise.

One afternoon, I was a bit hungry so I stopped at one of the restaurants down Beach Street and had a quiet and inexpensive lunch overlooking the water.

So I spent my days exercising (and loving it), reading, writing, and eating. Is there anything else I need to do?

Most nights, I was tired enough to go to bed early (or curl up with a book until I faded). One night I lit a fire, but the mosquitoes were a bit too ferocious to stand it very long.

I really found myself enjoying this pace. The only downside was that I didn't have Internet. I probably could have found wireless access in town, but I didn't feel comfortable bringing my laptop in a basket. But I could probably work on that problem and then . . . then it would be perfect. I'd love to go back up there this week, work on my proposal (yeah, if you're a friend, ask me about it) and maybe venture deeper into Wells and Kennebunkport.

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