The Peace of Wild Things

Aren't we all a little crackers?
Aren’t we all a little crackers?

My particular friend sent me a love poem the other day.

I had seen it before; this poem has made the rounds of self-help books and memes for many several years, usually as a call to nature.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
– Wendell Berry –

I don’t know why, but on this rainy day this poem, sent by my particular friend, takes me to a place of deep, abiding stillness.

That place where nothing really matters, not in a melancholy way but in the way of knowing what it means to be truly content with what simply is.

That place that has no boundaries except the sides of the universe that stretch infinitely.

That place where nothing is unforgiven, no fault is laid, there is no rush, pressure, or blame.

That place that might be called Grace in its most passive form: free and unmerited favor. Bestowal of blessings.

Obvi not a place that exists in the real world, except maybe on those rare occasions when you truly have nothing to do, all  day to do it, and a particular friend of your own with whom to do it. Then time slides through and around you like water slipping over a mossy rock.

The peace of wild things lives here, in this place.

There are other ways I can get to this place of grace…in the peaceful company of wild things.

Yoga, sometimes, when I am not beating myself up. Trikonasana, heart to the sky. Ardha chandrasana, open and balanced.

Sex, if I am being honest (which I always try to be), particularly the satisfying kind, tangled in the bedsheets afterwards, on the sleepy precipice, cells bathed in their own lovely wash of delight.

And cooking. Food.

Cooking takes me there, to grace. Even as my mind is racing through possibilities or running down a list of ingredients there is a meditative calm and stillness at the center of this work that isn’t work.

To describe myself in such terms – calm, meditative, still – is a rare and precious thing.

And yet.

When I come to the kitchen, there it is. And if it’s not there I can surely find it at the bottom of the bowl.

That place that is so quiet and still that I can hear my own voice, strong and steady in my throat and heart.

That undemanding timespace that somehow knits back together the very best parts of myself.

It doesn’t quite matter what I make.

It’s the act. The art.

Everyday Crackers

Crackers may seem an odd choice, but if it’s good enough for Jesus (grace and all), it’s good enough for me. Plus, these are easy and delicious and very nearly impossible to screw up. Very forgiving. #Grace

3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour blend
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
4 T. olive oil
4 T. butter, frozen and grated
1 cup water
Add-ins: 1 ½ tsp. fennel, 1 ½ tsp. sesame seeds, ½ t. salt, ¼ t. cracked black pepper, combined, toasted, and cooled

Preheat oven to 400⁰. In the bowl of a food processor, combine dry ingredients (including add-ins). Pulse to mix. Add olive oil and butter, then pulse to mix (the mixture will resemble cornmeal). Add water and mix until dough comes together. The dough will be sticky.

Lightly flour two cookie sheets. Working the dough as little as possible, pinch a bit of dough out of the food processor (approximately 1” balls). Place on the cookie sheet. Pinches of dough should be an inch apart. When you have filled the cookie sheet, lightly flour the flat bottom of a glass (or a measuring cup, or anything flat), and press each pinch of dough to 1/8” thick. The thickness is not as important as evenly pressing the dough is; uneven crackers will brown on one edge and not the other. Poke each crackers three times with a toothpick (this is important!).

Place cookie sheets in the oven and bake for a total of 12 minutes, rotating the crackers halfway through for even browning. Remove immediately from cookie sheets and cool on a wire rack. These crackers will stay fresh in an airtight container for three days, but you can pop them in a hot oven for a couple minutes to re-crisp if necessary.

Recipe notes

  • Oven temperatures vary and can greatly affect your outcome. Keep a close eye on your crackers, especially towards the end, to see if modifications to the bake need to be made.
  • These crackers can also be rolled out and cut into rectangles or squares with a pizza cutter.
  • Between batches, place the dough in the refrigerator.
  • Use all olive oil instead of butter to make these vegan. They may be slightly tougher.
  • Topping options are nearly unlimited, and you can also add fresh herbs into the dough when you add the water.
  • For a most delicious variation, add the zest of two lemons, ½ cup of dried blueberries (no sugar added), and 1 T of chopped thyme. Makes a beautiful, subtle, purple cracker. Serve with soft cheese.
  • These crackers can be made in a large bowl without a food processor. Work the dough as quickly as you can, and make sure all ingredients are incorporated.
  • For easier clean up, these can also be baked on parchment paper.
  • Store crackers in an airtight container. I have had them for as long as a week with no loss of texture, but I ate them all before I could experiment further.

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