A Taste of Tangerines
It’s the first “real” day of my vacation. It’s Monday. And I’m not going to work.
I’ve scheduled this break from my routine to come after the holiday season, right at the beginning of the new year.
I have two goals for this vacation.
My grandsons are coming to visit for a few days in the middle of the week. One goal is to be truly in that time with them, to fully dwell in our visit.
My other goal is to get comfortable with be. I spend too much time in do mode. Be is something for me to learn.
My one word for 2012 is be.
But today is Monday. Tomorrow I pick up Cadence; Wednesday I pick up Ayden. I have clothes to launder and groceries to buy so that when the boys get here, I’m free of the to-do list and can be with them.
I spend the day abustle, tidying, washing, hanging, folding. It’s two in the afternoon before I leave for the grocery store. I’m feeling behind schedule as I take command of a cart and make my way for the produce aisle. I consult my list: lettuce, bananas, potatoes, an onion, tomatoes, carrots.
I rush past the greengrocer and make my way to the banana display. As I’m examining my choices, I hear a voice at my side: “Would you like a sample?”
Turning, I see the grocer standing beside me in his green apron, tall and smiling. He holds out a tangerine. Before I can decline, because I’m in a hurry, you see, he cuts it into quarters, extends the offering to me. “Somebody asked me if they were good,” he tells me. “So let’s find out.”
I smile and reach for the fruit. Its skin slips off easily as a sweatshirt; the flesh is cold, tangy, and sweet. “Mmmm,” I say to the kind grocer. “This is delicious! Thank you.”
I turn to continue the banana selection process and a little voice inside says Stop.
Just stand here, the voice says. Enjoy the tangerine. Be.
And so I stop. Juice runs over my fingers as I bite into another section of the fruit. Because I’m going to eat it slowly, one section at a time. It’s velvety in my mouth. How had I never noticed the texture of tangerine fruit before?
Seeing that I’m standing, not walking away, the grocer shares a tip. “Take that tangerine peel, saute it in some olive oil, stir in a little brown sugar and some ginger if you have it. Add some chicken, then eat it with rice. Tangerine peel gets really tender when you cook it. It’s way better than orange peel for making orange chicken.”
“Really? I’ll have to try that.” Then, “I cooked pork chops in an orange juice and brown sugar sauce the other night. With onions. It was good.”
He agrees. “That would be good. You can do shrimp that way too. Shrimp, chicken, pork–it’s all good. Would you like a sample?” He’s turned to the man in khaki shorts and an Angels ball cap who is stopped in front of the oranges.
“Thanks,” the orange-buying man says. “The Caras have been really good this year.”
“So are these,” a voice says.
It’s me. I’m standing here, still, enjoying this gift of a fresh, cold, sweet, juicy, velvety tangerine, chatting with the grocer and the orange-buying man.
“You can toss the peel in that empty box on the bottom shelf of my cart,” the grocer says. “I have paper towels hanging right up there.”
“Thanks!” I select a bunch of bananas. Then point my cart towards the potatoes, stop, do a u-turn. I add a bag of tangerines to my basket. I smile at the grocer, nod to the orange-buying man, and go on my way.
I’m choosing an onion when I notice something odd.
I’m still smiling.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Psalm 46:10-11 (KJV)