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Fall term has been up and running for two weeks now at ballet school; that means that I have been sneezed and coughed upon by little people (and a few medium ones, too) for about as long. In years gone by I have been good for a solid head cold once a year but lately find myself unable to dodge the bullet three or four times a year. I am speculating that stress and general upheaval may be the culprits. Be that as it may, I am under the weather at the start of the year (sigh), almost right on the heels of a summer cold in late July. Don’t interpret this as whining, please; in general I’m not a huge fan of complaining publicly about ailments and illness. It just annoys me that at the moment I apparently lack the constitution to fight it off.

Aside from my work in the ballet world and as a freelance writer, I also serve as assistant to the founder of a groovy Vermont startup; I’ve been at it for a little over a year now. Most days of the week I report to work there in the early part of the day. Then I’m in my tiara for the afternoon and into the evening. (Not really, but I do actually own one.) Wearing different hats in a single day is part and parcel of who I am right now. As part of an ongoing marketing campaign recently the owner of the company at job #1 (who is the creative thinker behind some pretty dang delicious sweet potato-based salsas) has used social media to pose this question: What will feed and nourish you for the (fill in the blank) ahead?

Late Friday evening and into the night that question posed itself again and again to me on the longish drive down to Handsome Chef Boyfriend’s place for a weekend visit. What will feed and nourish you for the weekend ahead, I wondered? I willed the answer: homemade chicken soup. My throat was sore and I was worn out. And I happened to know he had just baked a whole chicken only a few days before. I had sent a message to him via mental telepathy to make stock, and then of course soup. I walked into his place around 9:30 and the unmistakable savory wall of homemade chicken soup steam smacked me in the noggin; you can see the finished product in that photo at the top, which I made just before we lunched on leftovers a while ago. (Yes, I know how incredibly lucky I am.)

Yesterday we wandered over to Saratoga Springs, NY to shop at a particular big box store of which we have none in Vermont. I am torn about this because in general I am against feeding the establishment that profits from the very cheap labor of people in countries without basic human rights. It is really hard to live by that ethic and there were some essentials I have needed for a while now that I knew I would find there. We made a day of it, delicious in just about every possible way (except for the human rights violation part); my only regret is that I did not press HCB to stop the car on several occasions so that I could snap photos of the breathtaking early fall landscape in upstate New York, and the vernacular architecture I can’t get enough of. I was a bit out of it and decided to just enjoy the ride. On the way back, though, we made an important stop, for ice cream.

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The Ice Cream Man has a cult-like following; it’s on New York Highway 29. I whined a little the first time we drove past, and then on the way back was finally assuaged. All of the ice cream there is homemade. A small cone has FOUR scoops (I kid you not); we opted for the kiddie size, which has only two. And as happens all the time, I could not help thinking about the American obesity epidemic, and about Michael Pollan’s food writing. But I also recalled something he observed about cultural differences in thinking about cuisine, and a project where Americans and French subjects were shown photos of the same chocolate cake and asked to choose an adjective to describe it. Americans overwhelmingly chose the word guilt, and the French, celebration. Dark roast coffee ice cream (moi) and Almond Joy ice cream (HCB) fed and nourished us as we celebrated our beautiful drive home. Works for me.

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We wrapped up our day on the sofa with a movie and a bowl of penne noodles and homemade meatballs. (There were possibly some pecan bar trimmings from a particular bakery thrown in for good measure.) Yep, fed and nourished. Not guilty, but celebrating good times in the company of an amazing man, at the end of a tiring work week. We’ll wake up tomorrow morning and do it all over again.

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