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Wednesday
Nov212012

braised french lentils with bacon, thyme + white wine

One of my very favorite photographs is of my father and me. I was about a year and a half and we are walking down a long, clean, white walkway in Greece. Along the sides are tall trees casting shadows on the pavement and at the very end of the path, we are hand- in- hand. He is wearing pale blue pants, a thin white t-shirt and a stylish hat. My head is tilted slightly and I am looking at him intently and smiling.

I wish I knew what he had said to me at that very moment.

In the distance, blurred only slightly, is the bright blue ocean and white sand. The sky is a deep, mesmerizing blue and the sun appears to be strikingly bright. I don’t know exactly where in Greece this photo was taken, but I know I’d like to return one day.

To that very spot.

Every time I look at that picture, my eyes fixate on the way he is grasping my hand. Tightly. Close to him. And although I am much too young to remember the details, I feel when I close my eyes I can remember very specific things. The sun. The trees. His laugh.

Perhaps the relentless gazing at the photograph has caused me to process the information in an altogether new way. To imagine and conjure up ideas of what I think unfolded. I can't be certain. All I know is that every time I see it, there is a familiarity that seems more than surface fluency. Much more than an exaggerated memory or an amplified recollection.

Photographs are amazing that way aren't they? They have the power to take you back to an incredible place or experience. A moment in time that you wish would live on forever. A beautiful memory that captivates and makes you yearn for the simplicity of that time. That’s what this photograph does for me. And I can’t really say why it’s so unique. I think it’s more about the way it makes me feel. Peaceful and nostalgic and truly content. On some level, I think it tells the story of my father and me. The way I always looked at him with admiration and the way he always held on tight. This photograph...is really the story of us. It’s the way I’ll always remember him. Free. Happy. Full of life.

I feel incredibly sad that my children won’t have the opportunity to ever really know his significance. That they won’t have the chance to learn from such a wonderful and articulate teacher. That they won’t be privy to his love of homemade soups, coffee crisp chocolate bars or classic cartoons. But more than anything, that they’ll never really know the love of a grandfather.
And now that we are embarking on an amazing project- a project my own father dreamed of, I can't help but feel even more contemplative… for the all things that could have been.

I imagine he would sit by the ocean with his grandchildren, building sand castles and collecting sea glass and rocks, jumping over waves and basking in the pure delight of sun and warmth.
Perhaps they would snuggle under a blanket and read stories about prehistoric times and ferocious dinosaurs. They would build a campfire and toast marshmallows and their hair would still be damp from the salty ocean.

I’m positive he would have answers to their pensive questions about life and God and the universe. He just knew things. And he knew how to explain them.

He would show them all kinds of interesting science experiments using magnets and he’d teach them how to build their own mock rocket ships. They’d fly kites and plant gardens and stop for soft vanilla swirl cones. 

The recipe below reminds me of something my dad would make. He didn’t ever make this version specifically, but he was always skilled at creating delicious soups and stews using beans and lentils as the main ingredient. Countless times, I came home from school and found him simmering and stirring. He took such pride in his cooking and I think he would have loved this recipe for its rich and hearty flavor.

My brother introduced me to Dupuay French Lentils a little while ago and I fell in love. I've tried almost every other lentil variety, but these are my favorite. They boil very quickly as they are quite small and there is no need for pre-soaking so feel free to throw together an impromptu meal without a lot of prep work.

And if at all possible, invite your dad over for dinner and enjoy his company. Tell him about your day and ask for his advice if you need it.

Smile at him.

Hold his hand.

And tell him you love him.

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Reader Comments (1)

Another beautiful post, Nic. Your Dad would be so proud of the person you've become. Hugs <3

Nov 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha Agar

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