Friday, April 18, 2014

Carrot Cake Granola

Before we talk granola, carrot cake granola, I have to ask if any of you watched the Eclipse on Tuesday. I did. I'll tell you about, but I don't remember a whole lot.

It was quiet, save the occasional car speeding by on the riverside highway, the only highway, in our neck of the woods.  Even though my heart, tucked inside a weathered bomber jacket, thumped wildly like a jackrabbit let loose into the night, it made no sound. Or maybe, I was too cold to notice it, for it was cold, as well. The temperature was the same as the silence; the kind that settles deep into your bones. What compelled me to stand there, on trodden snow, in the freezing cold; I don’t know. To be blatantly honest, I don’t remember a lot of the material that was woven into that night. All I have are a few blurry images, and some over-sensuous poetic terms that I scribbled on a gum wrapper I found in my pocket, as the prosaic part of my brain overtook the scientist in me; something about the moon being “coyotes howling in the dead of night” and “a moon as red as the revolution.” I also remember thinking, “God, is this beautiful” more times than I ever have in 78 fleeting minutes, which is the exact amount of time it takes for the moon to turn from blazing, star-crest white to a crimson red just as radiant, and back again. And, I don’t know, that’s about it. All I remember are those small commemorations, along with this feeling of…  what? Dissolute? Disappointment? Like I said, I just don’t know. That night, as I watched the moon become whole, I slowly felt myself dwindle, become somewhat less, and a kind of hollowness settled into me, sinking deep into my frigid bones like an empty hole wallowing deeper, and deeper yet.

Looking back, I realize how hard I tried to control this thing that I, corporally, could not control. I had thought that seeing this light cast onto the earths’ shadow, this spectacular display of the worlds’ radiance would shed some sort of radical ray of light onto my own life. Deep down, I had desperately hoped that this histrionic change in the earths’ atmosphere would, somehow, change me too.

I realize now that it was not the moon itself I had wanted to see, but the power it held. This inconceivable power, which brought so many like me to wander underneath the stars on the morning of April 15th; that which drove some to enlightenment and others completely mad, which makes fierce wolves cry in its’ presence, which can illuminate all the heavens while casting down shadows darker than sin, which could bring you omniscience with a glance or cause you to go blind if looked at for too long, and with a light that will just as readily bring a stray sailor home than cause the waves to rise and fall, sending his ship asunder.  It amazes me that one million different people could stand under one equal moon, and each take away something so entirely different; that one untouchable thing could have such a varied effect on so many. I wanted to hold that power, preserve it; I wanted to understand something that could not be understood, and keep something that could not even be touched.

I felt sorely dejected by some greater divinity that I could not touch or even discern for my greater being. So, maybe it was not disappointment I felt as I bid the fading moon goodnight. Maybe it was just me, who, as usual, was expecting too much for something I had no control over.

In the same sense, I’ve never understood Easter, or any festivity, for that matter; this unspoken power that calls to so many, tying our life strings, bringing us together. All I know is that, like the moon, it surely is beautiful. How arbitrary it is that these phenomena should take place in such close proximity, with the Eclipse happening just days before Easter and actually on the fortnight of Passover? These were times when blood was smeared, lives were taken, lives were renewed, and lives were changed. Yet mine, somehow, had not.
I still don’t understand these things, but have more or less come to accept them, just as I have come to accept the smaller, more definitive things in this highly-questionable thing called life. You know; simple things like flowers, hand-written letters, steamy cups of coffee, natural lighting, and hand-turned granola. This carrot cake granola, in particular, only seems perfectly apt for these trying times, brimming with both rejoice and reflection. Likewise, carrots and cake are two things that, commonsensically, do not go together, yet gather so beautifully in one place.

In our ancestors’ time, this combination might have been deemed as sacrilege, but like so many other ‘traditions,’ carrot cake has become an Easter staple. Even as a child, I questioned whether carrot cake was actually made of carrots, and then became the laughing stock of Easter gatherings for years after. But, despite common theory, the combination of carrots and caramely things is truly something splendid. Given this consideration, it only seems natural that they comply in granola, which serves as a mainstreet where everyone gets along, no matter the circumstances. So, feel free to invite in whatever you wish, be it coconut, raisins, dried pineapple, more or less spice, your favorite nuts, or seeds. Serve it over thick Greek yogurt, cream cheese, or crème fraiche for a tangy edge, or simply, with milk, a cup of coffee, or by the handful. Just as you’ll find with any good, old-fashioned carrot cake, this granola version can be served hot or cold, for breakfast or dessert, with or without topping.  By bringing it into your home, bring it into your own understanding as well, using the flavors you know and love best.