Story by Diane Haynes Woodburn
“It’s soup weather,” I announce happily. My husband and I are taking a walk through our neighborhood in the crisp morning air. “Yep, time to get the parkas out,” he smiles. At 4,000 feet, we in Kula get a real winter (by Hawai‘i standards) and it’s wonderful. The temperature is downright cold, the sky a clear, piercing blue, and of course, the sun is shining. I pick up a red leaf that has blown across my shoe and show it off to my husband, hugging my flannel shirt a little closer to brace against the sweet cool breeze. Smoke is curling up from nearby chimneys, and just as we turn the corner, a noisy family of pheasants flushes from the tall grass. As we approach the last stretch up our driveway, I’m already taking mental inventory of soup ingredients—and come up short. No barley. Darn.
Although this is January, and our customary luxury issue, I can’t help but be reminded that many of us are coming up a little short this season. And yet, like the gorgeous country morning, there is something sweet and hopeful in the air. “It’s different this year,” a friend reminds me later the same day. Instead of exchanging extravagant gifts this past Christmas, each member of her extended family wrote a check to the Food Bank. “We raised about $1,000,” she boasts, “and I feel great.” It’s a new era for Americans, and perhaps, just perhaps, the fresh new scent has something to do with Hawai‘i, something to do with a president who grew up with the sensitivity of an islander—the simple knowledge that we live in a finite space, and the unabashed truth that we need each other.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t still enjoy our small and not-so-small luxuries. This issue Shannon Wianecki takes us on a sailing adventure that offers a swim with the dolphins, and Tom Stevens introduces us to a group of vintage-car buffs who cruise the island in nostalgic style. Rita Goldman does a little soul searching in her story on the Schaefer Portrait Challenge, peeling the paint back to reveal how the artist’s eye sees the humanity in the human. And Paul Wood reaches to the heavens to share with us how ancient Hawaiians embraced the rising and setting of the moon to keep harmony with the life-giving seasons of the earth.
From my kitchen, I see a beautiful new moon brightening the night sky. I still don’t have barley, but I do have: leftover turkey, some carrots, onions, celery . . . a more thorough search through the pantry reveals yellow and green split peas. “I just bought some lentils,” my husband offers. “I think there’s some mushrooms in the vegetable drawer,” my son adds. I’m excited now. There’s kale in the garden, and fresh herbs. . . . I’m reminded of the fairy tale “Nail Soup.” A magician says he can make soup to feed a village from just a nail and a big pot of water. He dips the nail in the boiling pot of water and tastes it. “Hmm,” he says to the fascinated and unbelieving villagers, “it needs just a bit of parsnip.” “I have a parsnip,” someone offers, and the tasting and offerings continue, until indeed, there is enough soup to feed the village—all from one nail.
Luxury is in the eye and heart of the beholder. And it seems to boil down to the same small lesson—whether it’s sailing, tinkering, painting, planting—or making soup. It’s about appreciating what you have, and whom you have to share it with. Soup anyone?
Happy New Year.