Often on my desk at the church there is an empty bowl, ringed with cinnamon, that once held my breakfast oatmeal. Sometimes there is one in my minivan, too, with the spoon rattling around every time we turn a corner. I try to remember to bring them back in to the kitchen because I know they drive my husband crazy. My success rate is pretty low.
For me, those dirty oatmeal bowls are a symbol of how hard it is to be healthy in suburban North America. I make a significant effort to cook steel cut oats every single day because they are great food for my body: unprocessed grains with no sugar, salt or fat. Go me!
Unfortunately, it seems that cooking those oats (which takes half an hour and often involves me rushing down stairs dripping wet from the shower to make sure they don’t burn) is not nearly as difficult as finding the time to eat them. My usual pattern involves flinging the mostly-cooked oats into a bowl as I run out to the car, then balancing them in my lap trying not to spill them as I back out of the driveway. Once they are cool enough, I eat them in huge spoonfuls as I drive to the church or drop the kids at school. I’m pretty sure my healthy meal is a lot less healthy when I inhale it on the run like that.
Which is why I decided this week to do something different. I cooked my oats as usual, hurried to drop the dog at the groomer and then flew to a nearby school where my kids had music day camp. My oats were finally cool enough to eat. But instead of driving with one hand and eating with the other, I drove a few blocks to a park and stopped the car. I got out and took my oatmeal to a picnic bench.
While I ate (slowly for a change!) I listened to a white-throated sparrow singing. I watched a woman walking with her long skirt hitched up so that the cool breeze reached the skin on her legs. I marvelled at the tidy municipal flower beds and drank in the beautiful smell of summer dew on the grass.
I know that it was just one breakfast, and that being on vacation gave me the luxury of time. I still think it counts. Because not only was it a healthy thing to do today, I discovered how great it feels. Maybe I’ll do it again.