When working sheep with Border Collies every shepherd has a “look back” command. It may or may not be those exact words — or the most common whistle for it — but the intention is universal. Border Collies, by default, do very little looking back. They are not like humans; they have no navel and they’re not prone to gazing even if they did. They don’t dwell on what was. They focus with great intensity on what is in front of them. They look forward and move forward and think forward. They focus forward on the task — the sheep or cows or hogs — at hand, the here, the now. So when there’s a sheep or three left behind, hidden over a hill or within a patch of trees you have to remind them. weet, WEET, Wheeeoooo Look back! Look back there now!
It’s not a bad way to go about your days. In fact, it’s become one of my favorite ways lately. Only ways, even. Centered. Steady. Focused… forward.
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Read: I’m not sure I would recommend you actually buy Anthony Bourdain’s new cookbook, Appetites. I received it for Christmas and — nurturing a love-hate relationship with Anthony Bourdain already — I’m glad to call this copy mine, but I can’t say it’ll ever be one of the most valuable cookbooks on my shelf. Still, there are highlights. You might learn that you cook a lot of things like Anthony Bourdain already, which is a confidence booster, and there are a few great tips for hosting and feeding large groups. Plus there’s an interesting looking recipe for Octopus Soup about halfway through. So as much as it may or may not be worth buying it’s definitely worth a read. And you could do it in an afternoon, cover to cover, if you have a few hours to kill.
Watch: Hiraeth is a word I have loved since the first time I heard it. Roughly translating to a nostalgia for a home to which you cannot return; a longing for a home that is no longer or never was, it perfectly describes a state of existence that I have always inhabited, but never been able to describe with mere english. This short film by the same name is lovely.
Eat: Any recipe that ends in “gratin” is probably pretty good. One that also begins with “onion” is bound to be jaw-droppingly delicious, isn’t it? Behold: Saveur’s Onion Gratin. It is everything. Absolutely, everything.
Listen: We will likely forever have, at most, rabbit-ear-antenna-local TV, but I will go to great lengths to preserve my satellite radio subscription. Finding new, especially independent, artists whose work I enjoy is one of life’s greatest little pleasures. I heard this song, by a artist out of Minnesota on The Spectrum sometime last week on my way into town and immediately snapped a picture of the display so I could remember to include it here. Paired with the official music video below it’s even more striking. There is nothing subtle about the cinematography and cultural commentary, but it is a striking, gorgeous gut punch if ever there was one.
“Please help me chop this tree down
Or hold me from underneath
Words never once cut me down
Oh, don’t you cry for me”