Vegetable Soup and Good Souls

My early morning walk found me captivated by the weighty feeling cast by the sulky gray sky. Seeming to herald rain, the mood in the air was both invigorating and ominous; I was undaunted by the looming cascade of slate-hued clouds. Pup trotting by my side, we sauntered through topaz and garnet-toned leaves; his four paws pranced in tune to my rapid, two-footed pace. Under the cloak of the heavy, cloud-filled sky, his copper coat was cast into deeper shades of red and brown, yet he, too, was unaffected by the sun?s absence. His tail wagging ever stronger, he followed his hound-dog nose and pulled me toward a large moss-encrusted boulder.

As I waited patiently for Pup?s sniffing adventure to conclude, my thoughts took me to a dinner I had shared recently with two remarkable friends, a splendid couple who have been married nearly thirty years. With my thoughts on this inimitable pair, and the obvious bond of deep love that connects them, I envisioned the scene I had soaked in just days ago. She, lovely, blue-eyed, and fair, her hair swept up with ringlets cascading about her face?a compassionate, incredible woman of great sincerity. He, gray-haired and handsome, with a winning air of boyish charm and dignity?a big-hearted man of depth and kindness. Chatting all the while, she smoothly tossed the salad and stirred the simmering soup. He, also an attentive host, prepared peppermint tea for me as he sipped his wine and listened to the tale of my particularly eventful day. I quietly watched them move within their inviting kitchen, delighted to soak in the beautiful melody of their time-worn interactions. It was clear that the years of their marriage had created only deeper mutual love and respect between them. This was nothing new to me, for I had witnessed their interplay since meeting them, ever awed by their fluid interdependence that also allowed for free-flowing spells of independence within their marriage. An extraordinary couple, one does not sense they are bound by a weighty constraint of life or marital role, but an embracing of individuality and the richness to be found in sharing life?s adventures. Twins in spirit, their loving, youthful energy continuously a wonder to behold.

We sat to eat, the table laden with hearty dinner fare. Unusually hungry, my mouth watered as the aroma of the harvest-colored vegetable soup wafted toward me. Steaming within white china bowls, the soup?autumn shades of deep orange, green, and amber?was a magnificent work of love. An abundance of lentils, yams, greens, parsnips, and sweet potatoes swam in the rich, aromatic broth. Looking from my friends to the delectable food, my senses were further bathed in the delicious beauty of the plates heaped with walnut-laden salad and the overflowing basket of warm, hearty bread. Everything one needed for sustenance lay before me. Linking hands, blessings were offered; we shared in a heartfelt display of gratitude for life, love, friendship, and nourishing food. Lifting my spoon, I dove as delicately as possible into the inviting stew. Savoring the first delicious spoonful, I was filled with appreciation for the friends that had created such a dinner to share with me.

As I enjoyed the bountiful, comforting fare, I soaked in the company of my friends. Our conversation ranged wide and far, from yoga and psychology to their recent trip to Bhutan. Our chatting moved seamlessly from one topic to the next, and I reveled in the warmth of their kind and genuine spirits. The minutes passed too quickly?as they always do when sharing time with such folks. With work awaiting each of us the following day, I took my leave. Toting a care package of vegetable soup, bread, and a sweet, the additional gesture of kindness was yet another confirmation of the beauty of the two good souls who had welcomed me into their home and their hearts.

Life, too, is a vegetable soup. Given care and attention?and a thoughtful mixture of balancing ingredients?it offers the nourishment we so dearly crave. My own soup recipe has changed over time, with the proportions and seasoning altering as I experiment with failures and successes. For now, at least, I seem to have honed in on a magical combination that suits me quite well: love, gratitude, dignity, wisdom, integrity, friendship, exercise, passion, dedication, compassion, hard work, curiosity, delight, generosity?and simple, hearty food. Enjoy.