As I walked out one evening
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.
And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
"Love has no ending.
"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street.
"I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.
"The years shall run like rabbits
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages
And the first love of the world."
But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
"O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.
"In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss
"In headaches and in worry
"In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.
"Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.
"O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.
"The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.
"Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer
And Jill goes down on her back.
"O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress;
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.
"O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart."
It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming
And the deep river ran on.
W.H. Auden, "As I Walked out One Evening"
It's interesting how our perception of time changes as we age. I read an article once about children's experiences in the juvenile justice system. The author argued that the entire experience had an enormous impact on children because of their perception of time. For a 13-year-old, 8 months is a long time --partially because of a child's perception of the future, and partially because 8 months simply represents a greater proportion of a child's life than an adult. 8 months looms larger in a 13-year-old's life than in a 35-year-old's life.
The older I get, the more the cliche expression rings true for me: Time goes by so fast. The good weeks, the bad weeks--everything.
This past semester, there were several weeks that I dreaded long in advance. Weeks with long research papers or work-projects or cite checks, all coming at once, or that particularly dreadful week of 3 exams in 4 days. But you know what? It all came, it all went, and I survived. Some of the hours were in fact dreaded and long, but most went by quickly.
Then I had a period of much anticipated good things. My birthday! A trip to Italy! Christmas! All of it wonderful. All of it went by quickly.
Again, my un-profound realization--the hours are long, but the weeks and months and years are short.
Let's be better at loving our crooked neighbors with our crooked hearts, finding the good moments even during the bad weeks, and remembering that life is a blessing.
I doubled this recipe to make 2 loaves, one for us, and one for our real-life neighbor. Although I've lived next to her for almost a year, I'd never actually spoken to her until mid-December when she brought over some bread and her contact information, asking us to keep an eye on her house while she went out of town. It was such an unexpected, lovely gift. It made me happy, yet also sad that it had taken so long for us to have a real conversation.
Today, I'm going to return the favor with this apple cinnamon oatmeal loaf. I hope you'll make some bread and share it with your real-life neighbors too.
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Quick Bread
2 cups Chobani plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup milk
2 cups quick cooking oats*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 ripe banana, mashed**
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large gala apple, cut into small pieces. (Reserve a few thin slices for decoration if you like.)
*I don't usually have quick-cooking oats around, but you can make your own by pulsing 2 cups regular old-fashioned oats in the food processor a couple times.
**If you don't have a banana, you could replace with 1/4 cup applesauce, honey, or brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 and prepare two loaf pans by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine Greek yogurt, milk, and oats. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. (This allows the oats to soften a bit.)
In a large bowl, combine vanilla extract, eggs, canola oil, brown sugar, and banana. Add flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine. Add oatmeal/yogurt mixture. There will be a lot of dough and it may be difficult to stir. Use a wooden spoon and your biceps!
When all ingredients are incorporated, add the apples and stir to combine.
Divide batter evenly into the two pans. (It will be thick!) Use a spoon to even the surface. Top with thin apple slices for decoration, if desired.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden brown.