Saturday, November 3, 2012

Soul Color

This week, we celebrated All Souls Day and All Saints Day.  I hope that wherever you are, the changing seasons encouraged the trees around you to expose their own soul color.  For most of the year, a tree’s true leaf color is hidden behind hard-working chlorophyll as the tree diligently converts carbon dioxide and sunshine into the life-sustaining oxygen we tend to take for granted.

Then, for a few short weeks, or days, or even hours, the tree stops working long enough to show its true color.  If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it.

I believe the beauty of autumn is made even more exquisite by the urgency that accompanies it.  As your childish senses are thrilled by the crisp, crackly, flame-colored leaves, your grown-up wisdom reminds you that frosty wind and shortened daylight hours will soon turn the crispy flames to a dull, limp brown.

We recently experienced the height of Iowa in autumn during a 2-hour train ride through my favorite scenic landscape, the 30-mile round-trip between Boone and Fraser, Iowa.  The muted autumn colors and “cha-chink, cha-chink” of the rail car provided eye-and-ear soothing escape. The unplugged venue provided opportunity for conversation and reminiscing. Yet, it wasn’t the trees or the leaves or the decaying vintage cars or the flock of wild turkeys or the dried-up Des Moines River bed that stirred us.  It was the soul color.

When we arrived at the depot, we discovered that the only wheelchair-accessible train car was in the shop for repairs. But that could not stop our adventure! Someone found a 12-foot long, 150-pound, 100-year-old ramp that could get Kyra’s wheelchair up to the level of the train car entrance. Others helped us lift her wheelchair off the platform and across a set of tracks.  Then, the conductor, tour guide, and engineer fussed over us during the journey, making sure we had plenty of room, plenty of assistance, plenty of anything we could have wanted.

All of these beautiful, colorful souls were volunteers.  All were at least 60 years old.  As we enjoyed their fussing and pampering, I wondered if their younger selves had ever slowed down enough to show off their vibrant soul color, or if they had been a passing blur on the landscape.

This fall, warm the souls in your family from the inside out with one of our favorite recipes.  It's a lot of fun to make together on a crisp Sunday afternoon, using any color of apple you choose.

Baked Apple Sunday
  •  5 apples, washed, quartered and cored (no need to peel)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup Shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (f) Spray 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dip apple quarters in butter, then roll in sugar mixture. Place in baking dish. Top with walnuts. Bake about 20 min, until apples are soft.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese while still warm.

To turn this recipe into a yummy g-tube friendly baked apple smoothie, blend about 1 cup Bake Apple Sunday with about 1/4 cup apple or orange juice.  Be sure to strain before g-tube feeding.

For more information about our scenic excursion, visit Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad.