A bowl of rice

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A bowl of rice.

Simplicity, austerity.

Each gesture from washing the rice to serving it with a bamboo spoon done with utmost care and full attention.

Giving thanks before eating, then with a straight back, savoring it in full presence.

So much beauty in the ordinary.

A simple bowl of rice you say, and yet, one of the many doors towards serenity.

Kenza.


Photo – in the kitchen, Kenza.

Sunday flowers

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A bouquet of lavender.

I trimmed some of the lavender growing in large pots on the terrace, as temperatures are expected to drop to zero degrees Celcius at night next week. Where I live, lavender flowers all year long but we are almost 2’000 meters above sea level so the nights can be chilly.

I regularly make small, very simple flower arrangements that I place on the kitchen table. It need not be sophisticated, just a few sprigs of herbs or vine flowers or even left over flowers from a withering more grandiose arrangement.

Try it! It will brighten your kitchen or desk, or wherever you chose to place it.

Kenza.

Photo – Kenza. 

Kisetsu – 季節

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Kisetsu (季節) is an important concept in Japanese culture. It literally means “a certain time of the year” or more commonly “season.”

In Japan, seasons are an integral part of life and the change of seasons is reflected in the arts, poetry and everyday activities.

At home, the change of season is traditionally respected by replacing items of decoration. In old times and even today, it is common to change the main hanging scroll in the common area to reflect the season. The scroll, known as kakejiku (掛軸), may have cherry or plum blossoms in Spring, and persimmons or fall foliage in Autumn.

Changing the scroll brings about harmony with nature and highlights the impermanence of things, both key concepts in Shinto and Buddhist thoughts.

“All beyond recall
Cherry blossoms have scattered,
So that my garden,
Once the home of joyful spring,
Looks now like an empty house.”

Ki no Tsurayuki, Japanese poet, Xth. C.

The same can be done in our homes by changing an item of decoration such as a painting or objects on tables, putting away some carpets in the warmer months while spreading earth colored pashminas on the sofa in winter.

The idea is to harmonize the home with nature, all the while eliminating clutter and giving a sense of freshness and renewal several times a year. One benefit is that the items that are set aside will be all the more appreciated once back in display. There is no need to have all our objects out all the time.

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At home, as the cold days are approaching, I have replaced some items on the walls. To be frank, I have very few and have placed a red colored painting more prominently, while taking away two simple Chinese fans. Two Persian wool carpets that were kept away, are now fully opened. Of course, the pashminas are handier. The ginger plant on the balcony is now inside the kitchen looking at the sun through the window, just like our cat Bluu.

This is a simple idea that will not only create harmony within a home but also with nature even if one lives in an urban environment.

Thank you for reading and please share your thoughts and any similar ideas. I would love to hear from you!

Kenza.

Illustrations:
“Maple viewing at Kai’anji Temple” by Shibuya Zeshin (Japan, 1807-1891), hanging scroll (ink and color on silk) – via The Met, NY.
“La vaca roja” by Juan Ezcurdia (Mexico, 2017).

In the kitchen: Persian yoghurt with cucumber and dill

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A fresh and wonderful dish to accompany any meal. The combination of natural yoghurt, dill and mint helps with digestion.

Mix in with plain yoghurt some cucumber cut in small pieces (discard the seeds), fresh dill, fresh or dried mint, and some cumin, salt and freshly crushed pepper. Depending on the accompanying meal, you can add raisins and crushed garlic. It is also great as a dip.

Enjoy!

Kenza.

As I knead the dough in the early morning …

 

As I knead the dough in the early morning…

… Doing the same gesture on a stone slab of pale color, I look up and see the bend where the two rivers meet.

I continue to work the dough, lifting a few strands of hair from my forehead with the back of my hand. Small particles of flour float in the air; as the sun rises, they turn into gold.

The house is still asleep. I so enjoy this moment of solitude, working the dough to the rhythm of the river.

I shape the dough into small sunshines, and place them in the clay oven.

The aroma of bread will be the same a few millennia from now, and maybe, just maybe, someone will be thinking of me as they knead the dough in the early morning.

Kenza.