Hazel Motes, Asparagus Soup, and the Third Eye

What do Flannery O’Connor, asparagus soup and the triops have in common? All have a certain otherworldliness about them, you could say, bordering on the grotesque. Peculiar might be a kinder word, especially in regard to the asparagus-spinach soup. It’s just not every day that you get to eat something That Green. Taken together, they’ve made for a surprisingly relaxing couple of days over here in the land-o-head-cold.

Okay, first the asparagus soup. As I considered what to make for dinner, I was haunted by a bunch of slightly wilty asparagus I’d bought last week and a bag of spinach not too long after, the loss of its salad-fresh days gnawing at me like an overdue DVD from the public library (we pay $1-a-day fines around here, provided we haven’t lost the movie [Nemo] altogether). Thank God for Google. I cobbled together a couple of recipes for asparagus-spinach soup, accompanied by Feeding the Whole Family’s easy-to-make-from-scratch vegetable broth. With the state of my sinuses, there almost wasn’t any soup; I had to restrain myself from drinking all four cups of the broth straight up. Might just be the cold talking…but no, I really do think it’s that good.

The only real changes I made to the recipe (besides making my own broth) were sauteing the onions/asparagus/garlic in butter instead of olive oil and adding another tablespoon at the end to richen things up. O yes, and a garnish of shredded asiago cheese (parmesan or romano would work equally well). Remove those tasty, though unnecessary, additions and this recipe is absolutely vegan. You can practically feel the green goodness flowing through your veins. But that would only be John and my veins, because the boys wouldn’t touch the stuff.

Moving on to Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood. Lead character: Hazel Motes. Ms. O’Connor can seem a little heavy-headed with the naming of her people. There’s Asa Hawks (the blind preacher) and his daughter Sabbath. We’ve got Mrs. Flood, the landlady. Enoch Emory, the 18-year-old park guard with terrible social skills, strange sensory issues (at one point, he rubs his body all along the front of a drugstore—something I’ve seen the J man do more times than I can count), not a friend in the world, and a strange obsession with blood and death.

I spent a good part of the weekend, on and off, reading Wise Blood for a book group I actually made it to Sunday night. Being sick gives me a kind of internal permission to put off laundry and cooking and crawl into the guest room bed. Never mind the general chaos of boys jumping, crashing, bouncing, hooting, rocking, and hammering (guest room doubles as their playroom/bounce house). I read through it all. I finished the book.

A short recap: Hazel Motes is riddled with guilt. Never mind that he’s founded the Church Without Christ and preaches to that affect from the roof of his “rat colored car” outside movie theaters on a nightly basis. In that funny/grotesque and just plain weird way of O’Connor’s, the violence he inflicts upon himself as a result of the violence he inflicts upon others is a study of a soul preoccupied with the truth. By all appearances, he’s a lost soul. But ultimately, he’s the only one not lost. For all his denial of redemption, I do believe he encounters redemption. More than that, he undergoes it.

Shall we conclude with the third eye?

J and G’s current music/cartoon of choice is They Might Be Giants 123s. Fun, and only slightly maddening (in the way that children’s music can get stuck on an endless loop in one’s head), it’s accompanied by unique collage-type cartoon shorts (one of my favorites: “Never Go to Work”). You guessed it. All the songs are about numbers. J has been fascinated by the number three song: “Triops Have Three Eyes.” Looked it up, and sure enough there’s a creature called a triops with three eyes. So John accordingly bestowed upon each of the boys their own third eye. This led to all manner of goofiness and some serious play.

Jonah was balance walking around the top of the climber. Unprovoked, he announced: “I’m not playing! I’m serious!” Just as serious was G trying to mimic his brother, only to be perpetually stymied by either John or I. He pretty much took it in stride, which means he continued to mimic his brother. He is the most stubborn individual I know. Next to my father.
And me.

Sometime later, Jonah nostalgically recalled how he loved to wear his overalls without a shirt when he was a toddler. Out came the overall, sans shirt, and he stayed that way all day, despite me asking “Aren’t you cold? Wouldn’t you like to put on a shirt?” Nope, and No. We’ve discovered the depth of J’s imperviousness to cold this winter. G’s a sturdy two-year-old, but he can’t take more than thirty minutes out in the real cold. J just keeps on plowing through—a trait that holds its own hazards but comes in handy when the drive to play supersedes all.

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