Monday, April 25

On Noticing Purple

Some incredibly desirable things in life are connected to our physical senses. Oh, sure, the most desirable things are intangible: love, peace of mind, abiding faith. But some of the delicious bits are sensory-related. In the book The Color Purple, Alice Walker has the character Shug tell us, “I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it.”

I agree.

I think it probably does piss God off if we don’t notice the existence, let alone the intensity of that purple. Or for that matter, the sheer deliciousness of pork fat, the silken texture and slight burn of Cuervo 1800 as it slips down the throat, the heft of a perfectly weighted rocks glass in the hand, the sweet smell and warmth of the sheets out of the dryer, the softness of that pillow under the head after a day of hard work or – even more decadent – hard play, or the beauty of well-assembled words on a page.

I’ll give you some of my examples. Hey, it’s my blog, right? Right.

To me, the smell of real lilacs is olfactory heaven. My friend Keith had a huge lilac bush in the yard at his old house, and each spring he’d bring some to work every couple of days to put in a big ugly plastic cup on my desk. (That’s love, people.) Whenever I see a whole rack of lilac bushes in bloom, I pull the car over, get out, and smell them for a while. Don’t care how silly it looks – it’s perfection in nature, and I do it.

A new friend, Christian, and I were discussing how the existence of great coffee and the existence of great vodka each make the other that much more fabulous. You know what I’m saying? Vodka hangovers cured by coffee (or a Bloody Mary, whichever) are just that much more a sensual experience when complemented by one another. First sips of each render a contented, “Ahhhh.”

I don’t care how cliché it has become: pork fat really does rule. Several things, including a chef who is decidedly not Emeril LaGasse – but does appear on the Food Network – have, for me, recently re-emphasized this basic truth. I finished reading a book found on the bargain table at Barnes and Noble called A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, by Anthony Bourdain. Damn, talk about a wordsmith. If the man cooks anything like he writes, I’m going to find him, off his lovely bride, and keep him for myself. The entire book is his adventures with the indigenous cuisine and food culture of several countries, beginning in Portugal (the country for which I am a terminal sucker.) Just the descriptions of palatable pleasures made me swoon. And I don’t swoon often.

I did make a swooning exception for this, received in an email from my friend The Chef: “Herb encrusted New Zealand lamb, grilled to perfection, served with a red wine reduction over creamy bleu cheese polenta, with caramelized brussels sprouts. A wild mushroom crepe cake oozing with three cheeses and drizzled with truffle oil. Home-smoked duck breast on top of smoky, roasted poblano and chipotle mashed sweet potatoes on a pool of tart cherry sauce with roasted spring veggies and wild mushrooms. A whole apple, tossed with butter, cinnamon and sugar, wrapped in puff pastry and baked to a golden brown. Served with vanilla gelato and spiced pecans.” See? Oh. My. Damn! Not only that, but he can actually make this culinary art. (Copyright on the menu is strictly his.)

Yes, there are SOME other things as delightful as good food.

My very favorite inexpensive, calorie-free, totally indulgent, completely innocent, sensual pleasure is clean sheets after a bath. There is no sweeter feeling than making your bed with sheets right out of the dryer and layering on the blankets and comforter. Then, you do the bath. The spa-like bath. Oil in the water, lighted candles on the counter. The whole deal. Soak, relax, listen to Mraz, read something wonderful, drink a glass of cabernet, shave legs. Get out of tub and, after drying off with a fluffy towel that also just came from the dryer, apply good-smelling lotion to entire body. Go lie down in freshly changed bed that doubles as nest. Read some more. Call Allison. How amazing does that feel? You’re going to have to try it for yourself. NB: If you’re a man, you may skip the leg-shaving portion of the program.

My visual pleasures are far too many to recount, but I’ll give some examples. The laugh lines around my dad’s eyes, the don't-be-a-smartass smile my mom does sometimes when we’re joking around, the way a swimming pool looks before anyone jumps in, the first ten minutes of fresh snow on the ground, plumeria blossoms, poppy orange, a picture of The Numbers, orchids, the black sand beach on Hawaii, the faces of my puppydoodles, a candle flicker on the ceiling, my paper star lanterns lighted, neatly stacked towels, martini glasses with olives left in them, shiny glass, the colors of the ocean that I’ve seen so far, my Christmas tree the first year I could really afford to give presents (I fairly shrieked with glee every night at the gifts!), the desert at my grandparents’ house in Bakersfield, the color purple.

Hmmm. It just occurred to me that attention to these wonderful, sensuous details may have actually improved my relationship to the more important things: love, peace of mind, and abiding faith.

What do you think? Would it do the same for you?

19 comments:

MajorMike said...

Sheer wordsmithery. I can see it all.

I think the wrinkles around my eyes are a little more pronounced, now.

*L'ola said...

sometimes even the purplenoticingest of us need a Tasty in their lives to remind them when life is looking its ickiest to take a moment to realize that all is not lost. i lost my Pollyanna-ness tonight. then i checked my email and saw you updated. then me, with the reading. now ima go change my sheets, wash my hair in the kitchen sink, play some Mraz, and do some serious snuggle time with the beagles.

how'd you know i needed this exact post exactly now? you done made me cry again, the thankful kind. you are spectacular and me, with the loving.

MamaChef said...

I totally got warm fuzzies reading your entry tonight! I like good visuals, and I love The Color Purple! And I love you, Hoosier-Sistah of mine! XOXOXO

Allie#3ga said...

that was one of the best ways to start a morning ever .... and now i want a bath and to call myself! ... one of the things that gives me that feeling of sheer happiness and the knowledge that all is perfect in the world...is sitting on the floor drinking egg nog the first night the christmas tree is decorated and the only light in the room is the light from the tree.

i love that moment.
and i love you.

devilboss said...

Wow, just wow! I could see it, smell it, feel it, almost touch it. Exellent.

You are the something that I look forward to seeing!

M'Ary* said...

I got lilacs in bloom. I'm just sayin'...

christ*el #3tx said...

sure DID change the sheets and shave my legs last night. that has been one of my favorite things for like, EVER.


and i need you to move here. now is fine.

*L'ola said...

i agree with christel. you DO need to move there. but only if you pick me up on the way. Schaa, like i was gonna let you move without taking me too.

Allie#3ga said...

HELLO have we met me ... no one is moving anywhere without me.

sheesh, i work for like 30 minutes and all hell breaks loose

tina said...

...and that's why we luv our stacey

Pears said...

No one goes anywhere without me! That being said, I want to thank you babe. I needed your words today. I love you always.

christ*el #3tx said...

y'all, if we move together, i really dont want it to be amarillo.

austin would be FAB tho.
or morocco.... that would be fine too.

*L'ola said...

i'd like to add my vote for tahiti or savannah.

amy said...

THE COLOR PURPLE is my all time fav. movie. I never read the book. Would you recommend it?

Holly Honey said...

WOW! Nothing makes a Sunday mornin' bettern a second cuppa coffe and reading Stacey! I love you sweetie!

mark waltz said...

We miss too much, don't we? What a wonderful celebration of the goodness of God-designed humanity!

And, I know that look of your mom's! :)

Mark Waltz

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