Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Case of Christmas and Black Bean Vegetable Soup

Just before the snow flew this year, I sat on a park bench overlooking Black Current Bay. Karl was getting off from work early, and was coming to join me. I soaked in the autumn sun. I watched Chickadees flitting from branch to branch. One landed on a Queens Anne’s Lace flower that had dried and closed. He hung upside down and pecked bugs, his weight bending the fragile stem. I watched as he flitted to his next perch. What? Oh no! He flapped frantically!

Caught in a burr bush.

I didn’t want to intervene right away, and scare him, thinking he would escape on his own. But he didn’t.

He didn't!

He was getting more and more entangled.

I approached. Sure enough he was so stuck. He squawked softly, beseechingly, and to my ears cried, “Help me!”

I wish I were brave enough right then and there to tear his delicate legs, wings, and fluffy down-covered flesh away from the burrs, but I worried I’d cause too much damage. I tried to figure out what was best. Should I cut off the stalk and take stalk and all to a vet? Should I run to the nearest downtown building and ask for help? I searched my purse for manicure scissors, and cut off surrounding burrs so he wouldn’t get trapped yet again if he managed to free himself. But by now he was Velcro'd, all the way up the length of his body to his throat.

Luckily, I saw Karl approaching. I shouted to him to hurry. I steadied the stalk, and Karl pulled. I asked Karl to keep hold of the bird. I didn’t want him to flutter away with burrs still attached to him. Karl said, “He’s bleeding.”

He held the tiny Chickadee chest-up and asked me to pull away the last knot of burrs. I couldn’t do it.

So Karl did, then released him, and he flew away. I asked if Karl thought the Chickadee would be alright. He said, yes, the bleeding would stop and his wounds would heal, and it was an excellent sign our Chickadee was fit to fly.

You know, I so identified with that scared, trapped bird.

Don’t you think we humans feel similarly trapped sometimes? And we could use a hand more powerful than ours to help us to freedom? Anyway…that whole scenario spoke to me of...connection.

Merry Christmas!

Black Bean Vegetable Soup

3/4 cup black beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps curry powder
1 cinnamon stick
28-oz-can diced tomatoes
9 cups water
7 rounded tsps (for 7 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 cup tomato juice
fresh parsley, chopped

Simmer together the first 12 ingredients (black beans to pepper to taste) for 2 hours in an uncovered pot.

Remove the cinnamon stick.

Blend one cup of the soup. Return the blended portion to the pot. Salt to taste.

Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6.

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