In Colorado the rain is precious. Something to be treasured. A gift from Heaven meant to be enjoyed and savoured for as long as it lasts. The drought has persisted here for years now, and I find myself longing for that gentle pitter-patter against my window panes - a distant and fading childhood memory - and the soft, velvet light of the sun filtering through layers upon layers of dense, silver clouds.
This Spring has been unusually hot and dry. The dirt from the pasture across the road blows in billows and orange waves toward my house in a violent assault on my flowers and trees, on our eyes and lungs. The distant smoke of far-off wildfires fires creates an amber haze and haunts me with feelings of nervous agitation. Sudden gusts of hot wind anger the wind chimes outside my kitchen window. Even the weeds are ashy and wilted as they struggle for life in the dense clay soil.
Last night I noticed a subtle change in tune of the chimes. A cool, moist wind was blowing from the West and she brought with her the first tiny raindrops of the season, with the promise of more to come. Finally I was lulled to sleep by that gentle, rhythmic tapping on my bedroom window.
The rain lingered throughout the night, and we all awoke much later than usual, when the first rays of sun normally stream brightly through the Eastern windows. The world was grey; the earth sodden; the sad, ashy weeds a vibrant, almost fluorescent, shade of emerald.
The gentle rain continued all morning, and as I drove C home from school I noticed that, for the first time in months, I could no longer see the the rocky bed of the river which flows near our house. As I crossed over the narrow bridge, I felt compelled to pull off the road for an impromptu nature walk.
Though C was still in his school uniform, I couldn't deny him the joy of splashing in the puddles as we walked along the river bank. Boys will be boys, and clothes will wash. The air was sweet with the smell of moss, damp earth, and honeysuckle.
As I crept with my camera down the steep, rocky bank for a closer shot of the river, I startled a stately Blue Heron who was resting in a quiet pool below. He lifted himself on majestic wings and rattled the quiet leaves above as he soared to a safer spot on the other side of the river.
Farther down we came to a place where the river narrows and tumbles violently down a fall of massive boulders. The ground trembled with the force of the water and we were in awe of the immense power this normally quiet river unleashed. The sound of it pounded in our ears and we had to yell to hear each other.
As we headed back I felt overwhelmingly blessed to live amid such natural beauty. There's no where more serene than Colorado after a Spring rainstorm. Though I'm forever nagged by an unquenchable wanderlust, I don't think I'll ever leave here again. At least not for good.
We came home feeling cold but fully alive and exhilarated. A feeling that makes your fingers tingle and your chest swell. I set a pot of warm Split Pea and Chicken Soup on the stove to simmer while the rain began to fall once again, and the steal-grey sky turned navy and finally black.
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lg organic carrot, diced
1 rib organic celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
6 cups organic chicken broth or water (or a combination of the two)
1 3/4 cups dry split peas, rinsed and sorted, divided
1 organic chicken breast
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in the olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the spices and bay leaf and cook a minute longer to toast the spices. Add the chicken stock and 1 cup of split peas. Cover and simmer 25 minutes.
Add the remaining 3/4 cup of split peas and simmer 10 more minutes. (I add the peas in two batches so that some will remain slightly firm while the others fall apart in the soup)
Add the whole chicken breast to poach in the soup for 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate until cool enough to handle. Simmer the soup for 15 - 20 minutes longer, until the split peas are soft.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it with two forks. Add it back to the soup along with the honey. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with homemade croutons and chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro.
3 - 4 slices of whole grain bread (I use sprouted bread)
salt, pepper, and Italian herbs
Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 400 F (200 C). Cut the bread into cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a pinch or two of Italian herbs. Toss to coat. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until crisp and toasted.
Shared with: Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sunday Night Soup Night, Real Food Wednesday, Monday Mania, Melt in your Mouth Monday, Hearth and Soul, Simple Lives Thursday