About thirty minutes ago I gave myself the choice of spending the afternoon finishing Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, watching an afternoon NFL football game, or–now that summer appears over–putting up some final summer flower photos. I think the novel is wonderful, but it is too emotionally challenging for me today. I love football, but I was in the stands when Michigan beat Maryland yesterday; that is enough. So, I am posting some photos. With them, I send my (still) hopeful wishes for us all.
Last Tuesday Tom and I took Amtrak to D.C. In our day and a half in the city, we enjoyed many activities including dinner with two children, two museums (The National Museum of the American Indian and The National Gallery), four gardens (Enid A. Haupt, Mary Livingston Ripley, National Garden and Bartholdi Park of the U.S. Botanic Garden), and several big city meals. One of these meals was lunch at PHO 75 on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia.
I think I might have mentioned before about my good fortune in teaching at the Arlington Education and Employment Program (REEP). Before you think, oh no (!) she’s becoming too elliptical again, let me explain the connection. One part of that REEP good fortune was all the great food that was associated with it. PHO 75 itself was in the strip mall just the other side of the gas station from Wilson School where we taught.
Phở is beef and rice noodle soup with a variety of fresh vegetables (and lime) added to it.
When it’s made in the traditional way (e.g. with real beef stock, no cutting up the noodles) phở is a delicious soup.
What I am remembering today though is not so much the taste of the soup, but the happy times doing good work with my friends. Sometimes we’d get the phở carry out so we could go back to school and slurp through interminable meetings. The slurping and the switching between chopsticks and spoon kept one awake and also (in my case, at least) kept my mouth full so I wasn’t always making comments, which sometimes annoyed a program coordinator or two.
The reason I am writing this post: It is the beginning of Vietnamese New Year (Tết). I remember my friends and my students—I counted once, all told I taught people about 85 countries—with love and respect.
The real reason I am writing this post: As a follower of the Gregorian calendar, I made my New Year’s resolution a little over six weeks ago. I resolved to be a kinder person. I’m working on it, but it’s surprising to me how often a nice enough person (like me) has to remind herself to be kind. I am happy that another New Year has come around so soon to help me to remember my resolution. Hot soup and warm memories also help in my resolve.
We had a snowstorm yesterday. It was nothing like the Northeast or the Midwest, but we did get several inches. Still, under a laurel bush, I saw a crocus in bud through the snow. A new year and spring waiting in the wings.