I love books.
Fiction or nonfiction, hardcover or paperback, best-seller or an obscurity; I’m more or less the quintessential bookworm. I’ve been on a bit of a tear recently, making my way through (as evidenced from last week’s post) verse upon verse of Wendell Berry’s poetry; book after book on sustainable agriculture, the wellness of the land, and the wellness of our bodies (The Third Plate, Defending Beef, The Big Fat Surprise, Farmacology); and the most relaxing and peaceful set of essays called Rivers and Birds, in which Merrill Gilfillan reflects on “the most daily of things, garnered and shifted to the sacred.” (p.128)
Spring, it would seem, is the season for reading. But as I considered that point, it got me thinking:
It’s undeniably true that each year, when spring (or perhaps more accurately, spring break) rolls around, it’s time to pack up the beach towel, sunglasses, and a few good paperbacks.
Before too long, summer’s heat sets in and I spread a blanket beneath the shade of a good tree and sprawl on my belly turning a hardcover’s pages.
As the leaves begin to turn and the scent of woodsmoke hangs on cool morning air, the calendar pages adorned with the crimson and gold of deciduous forest in autumn glory, I inevitably succumb to the desire to go to the nearest university bookstore and peruse the selection of textbooks-for-classes-I’d-love-to-take. And maybe come home with one (or two).
And when the Montana winds and snows and subzero temperatures of winter lock me housebound, there is no better time to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea or hot cocoa and one of the latest additions to the ever-present stack on my bedside table.
So it seems that, in the end (and for a bookworm at least), each and every season is the season for reading.
And as for reading: I need an actual book. Not a Kindle, or a Nook, or an iDevice. I fully appreciate the utility of an e-reader, particularly while traveling. But I like the heft of a book, the smell, the turn of the pages. I spend all day every day staring at a computer screen for work. The last thing I want to do when I come home, or in my leisure time, is spend additional hours staring at a screen (taking the time to write this blog notwithstanding!).
Just as much as I love a good book, I love a good bookstore. The Harvard Coop is one of my all-time favorites, as is Powell’s in Portland, Oregon, and The Country Bookshelf and Vargo’s Jazz City & Books in Bozeman. A recent addition to the list, which I serendipitously happened to visit on National Independent Bookstore Day: The Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado. I hope the indie bookstore can hold on in this age of Amazon and electronics. I, for one, need the peace and quiet shelter that row after row, shelf after shelf, can offer.
There’s nothing like a serious day of book browsing to work up an appetite, of course, and some Colorado friends and I addressed that state of affairs by whipping up a delicious spring BBQ, which we managed to enjoy before the rain blew in.
Spring Strawberry Salad Serves 6
For the salad: 16 oz baby spinach, rinsed & dried 16 oz strawberries, rinsed, stemmed & sliced 4 oz sliced almonds, toasted 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled* balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)
* For a vegan option, omit the goat cheese and substitute 1 sliced avocado
Toast the sliced almonds in a dry, heavy skillet over low heat until they become fragrant and slightly golden, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
Place the spinach in a large serving bowl. Dress the greens with the balsamic vinaigrette now, or leave to the side and let folks dress their own.
Arrange the strawberry slices on the top of the spinach.
Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and the sliced almonds.
For the balsamic vinaigrette: 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil 1/4 C balsamic vinegar 1 t honey handful of chopped fresh chives salt & pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a small mason jar.
Put on the lid, shake vigorously, and serve.