sudden sunlight

mango-jicama salad

Sudden sunlight broke into the living room as I was writing. Furrowed into myself in front of the computer — busy stringing sentences together and trying to make them sing — I looked up for the first time in twenty minutes. The clouds had been nudged out of place by bright, blue-tinted light. Seattle light. Winter-slowly-coming-into spring light.

I stood up and looked out the window. A young father held the hand of his little boy as they crossed the street. I smiled, my face softening. Whenever the Chef sees that scene, he calls to me from the kitchen, “Come here! Look out the window!” Now, I was seeing it for him, the little red rain slicker, the tottering steps, the sure grip and vast expanse of crosswalk before the curb. I thought of John Lennon, his song “Beautiful Boy,” the Caribbean steel drums. Always, I go back to the line in that song: “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

I lay aside the writing.

Hungering, I went into the kitchen. Jicama sat on the countertop, left over from a shopping trip during which I had plans. I had forgotten them. I picked them up again. Slowly, as slowly as I could with the hunger building inside me, I chopped up the jicama. I reached for the mango sitting beside it on the counter and started to slither off the peel, like remnant flesh of a snake’s forgotten skin. Lemon — I could have used limes, but I had no limes. Fresh ginger. A soft avocado, squishy and probably a day past its prime. But there. It was all there. Golden balsamic vinegar. Salt that stuck to my still-wet fingers. Black pepper, settling onto all those colors.

When I looked at the red bowl, I saw its unexpected beauty. I could have cut the pieces smaller — next time. It might taste better with a pinch of nutmeg — we were out. If I had planned to take a photograph, I would have wiped off the edges of the bowl, just to make it look pretty.

But sunlight in Seattle, in February, fades fast. Imperfections are just as fleeting.

Sunlight on the red bowl, the edge facing west a golden illumination. For a moment, heartbreak. All this beauty.

10 comments on “sudden sunlight

  1. Katherine

    gorgeous pic and post . . . makes me want to vary my “guac” extravaganza I’ve been on lately . . . you eat such lovely food 🙂 (and a ps – would you be open to changing the settings on your commenting so that bloggers who don’t have ablogs can still identify themselves? Right now it looks like I’m merely a private profile member of and wishing to remain anonymous) 🙂 Kate (your fellow gluten-free blogger from 🙂

  2. bookbabie

    gumbyNice post. I just copied and pasted your peanut butter cookie recipe. I tried a different one this afternoon and they looked like they’ve been run over by a steamroller. Yours look much better!

  3. bakerina

    Oh, Shauna, the way you write, and the way you notice the world around you, makes my heart hurt. In the best way in the world, of course. 🙂

  4. Christan = )

    Sweet photo!!
    I noticed I’m listed on your site, thanks!!
    And hey, did I miss the post about St. Patrick’s Day or are we waiting to hear about that??
    I would love to meet you and think I might bring my son up also. It would be so neat to not worry about what he’s eating while we are not home!!

  5. Kristin

    Oh my god, that salad looks delicious !! I think I will stop at the grocery store on the way home from work and buy the things in it so I can have one !! See how you inspire people ??

  6. Jean Layton-GF Momma

    Lovely once again! I love the serendipity of this combination. I love your ability to see the wonder in the world. Can’t wait to get some jicama and mango.

  7. madre-terra

    A beautiful moment.
    My heart always opens a little wider when I see a loving dad and child.
    And to top it all off with sunlight.
    A beautiful moment.

  8. Kelley

    That line from “Beautiful Boy” is my favorite quote. It’s so true! Thanks for sharing your insights once again. You’re such an inspiration.

  9. Les

    I stumbled here after reading a post on Soule Mama’s blog about some cookies she received from you. I immediately fell in love with your blog. Your words do sing and your photos are stunning. You’ve inspired me to cook and eat more healthy foods and I anxiously await the release of your cookbook.

    My dad and stepmom live aboard on Lake Union and it’s been so enjoyable to read your daily posts (you write so beautifully, I feel like I’m reading an on-going novel), giving me a glimpse of the weather and happenings in Seattle. I wonder if they’ve ever dined at your Chef’s restaurant.

    I’ve been reading through your archives (slowly, but surely) and you truly are an inspiration to living a beautiful life.

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