The first few days after we say goodbye to a foster are a little funk. The house feels different. I would even call it melancholy if not for the memory of that one moment where the new family waves goodbye with the dog in their arms, new loving arms. There are few other smiles more sincere I’ve seen that that moment. It zaps the emptiness in the kitchen immediately. I grind the coffee, I prepare the kettle, and I think of how different, how much richer the new family’s story will be with their new canine friend.
People often tell me that they could never foster dogs because they’d want to keep them all. I’ll admit it’s tough. Shaun and I sat in silence for a bit when we drove away from Tex’s new house on Thursday. Wind from the open windows held back tears. We held hands and smiled. For what was, what all will be. My heart was so, so full. Honestly, I felt like it would burst. Words needn’t be spoken. It was a perfect silence. Joy filled the car knowing that everything was just as it should be.
Each dog over the past year has given us a chance to practice love, patience, flexibility and prepares us, ultimately, for the inevitablity of goodbyes that the future will always hold. The whole process requires an accountability to truly live in the present. The dogs, just like most other people and things, come into our lives without much warning and we never really know how long they’ll stay. It encouarges us to let go of expectation, give all of our love with all of our hearts, stop holding back, and make everyday a new adventure because you don’t know how long you’ll have together. It’s amazing how a little creature that has such limited means of communicating can deliver such a profound lesson on life, on life and time.
Here today, gone tomorrow. Fostering teaches how to absorb the waves of change instead of letting them knock us on our toosh. Nothing stays the same for long. Nothing lasts forever. The good stuff, the not so good stuff — it all comes and goes, as it should.
Thanks Tex. You and each of your friends that came before you have loosened us up a bit for the big changes, the big excitements, and the big disappointments we’re destined for in the future. We’re better equipped to handle the waves because of you.
Braised Bok Choy Noodle Bowl
- 1 lb baby bok choy
- 1/2 lb shitake mushrooms
- 1 cup green onion, chopped
- 1-2 packages 100% Buckwheat noodles
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, divided
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- thumb sized nub of ginger, grated
- 1 lemon + 2 limes
- 2 tbsp white or rice wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
Start with the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to boil with a bit of oil to keep noodles from sticking. Buckwheat cooks in 8 minutes so keep a close watch and remove from heat and rinse immediately. Set aside while you prepare the veg.
Remove the bottoms of the bok choy and place leaves in a bowl of cool water to let the dirt and bits fall to the bottom. Bring a heavy pan (or wok, if you have one) to heat with 2-3 tbsps of coconut oil, 1 tbsp of sesame oil, and the garlic and ginger. Simmer to brown the garlic then add the damp bok choy leaves and braise in the oil for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set greens in a small bowl. There should still be a bit of oil in the pan for the mushrooms. Slice them into 1/4″ slices and sauté for 2-4 minutes, depending how hot the pan is. Remove ‘shrooms and set with the bok choy.
Add a bit more coconut and sesame oil back to the pan with the juice of one lemon and vinegar and let simmer. Add the dried and cooled noodles until coated and warmed. Assemble the bowl with noodles as a base, layering the mushrooms and boy choy on top. Sprinkle with salt, a bit of lime juice, and the fresh green onion.