meyer lemon snow
the hills around monkey home 01-03, 2010 is covered with generous amount of snow. though i was told apologetically that uk does not get much snow- no, nothing like canada, they say, this is quite a bit. it came. over. the night. blanket. perhaps about 20cm. schools and government offices are closed. grind to halt. it's the wet, compacting snow. huge flakes, heavy ones that falls right through, no weaving in and out about.
with all those grey and white around, however, i have received a pale yellow, meyer-lemon- wrapped- in- white- tissue- paper coloured postcard in the mail, with a little sketch of a hand holding a flower, by picasso. have you had encountered real meyer lemons? they are quite special little guys. they arent exactly just lemons. found, collected from china, then replanted in the states, meyer lemons are cross between lemons and sweet citrus- probably mandarins.
unlike boisterous big, thick-skinned real lemons, they are very thin and smooth skinned and rather sweet. not having any of that bitter white pith of lemons, you can eat these skins, without any sugar. oh did i mention they are incredibly juicy as well? but because they are thin-skinned and 'wet,' commercially they have not been such a hot commodity. even now, it's incredibly expensive. so the best way to do it is either through the farmer's markets or grow your own. one of my neighbours once had a dwarf meyer lemon tree that was quite a busy tree and she really didnt care much for them. so once in awhile, i would receive a handful of them- couple, just enough for a big soup bowl. you can do so many things with them.
one thing is to slice them really thin, warm it in a simple syrup and reduce, then put it on everything. even by itself. couple slices put underneath the skin of a roasting chicken with sage. or mince every bits of it and make a sweet lemon rice (bit of ghee, tumeric, peppercorns, rice then minced lemons) for that spicy curry. let the fresh slices mellow out with a nice crisp bottle of cava over the day then enjoy it with simple grilled peaches. or make nice custard-based lemon bar, but with whole minced fruit rather than just the juices, as you would with regular lemons. let it sit with honey, 1:1, in a jar. dunk a spoonful in hot water as a herbal tea.
see, the true value of meyer lemon is that it is gentle and sweet. if you want the sharpness of regular lemon, dont ever substitute meyer lemon. without the thick protective pith, the cushions, they are really... wonderful. and funny, because they are so soft and nice, they dont travel well. not a rough crowd. you have to be nice to them; funny enough, the tree itself is rather hardy. so it's not a total pansy plant. i say.. refined plant really. lemon grew up and decided that it is perfectly alright to have a soft, sweet side. no need to put up the armours toward the external world.
funny enough, this afternoon i spend with beethoven violin sonata op. 12 no. 3. and trying desperately to contain some of the things i have learned and absorbed in banff fall 2009, i am trying a couple new things. no pedals. not extending over the bar line. no stretching of time without giving some back. all articulation markings and dynamic markings. much more attention to the pronunciation of the phrases and each little punctuations. and tempo! the scholar kolisch suggests tempo of quarter note=120. now that's a bit too crazy for me yet, we are settled at 112. and this particular manner produces a very different flavour of beethoven.
rather than having that manic, bush-haired crazy man who is yelling at everything (not everyone, everyTHING! remember the rondo of rage over lost penny? har har), we get this real gentle human. man who is able to listen, comprehend, speak and invite everyone around him with this magic aura of freely offered and caring human interaction. no bravura passages or brutality. but of a close pull of waltz, danced by partners who can anticipate one another but does not, because it's not about being able to prove one could anticipate and do, but it is about letting the other present a moment which one then takes, integrate and in turn, offer another gesture.
the danger of playing such way? well, it's risky. nowhere to hide. no quick fixes for slightly misplace notes, a bit of compacted phrases, uncommitted articulations. and clearly no room for egos- it's not the way of playing that lets one 'masturbate' in a performance. it being honest and having only a very thin wall of safety, it needs more work to be integrated and committed. and it's absolutely beautiful i think.
too bad i cant really do it yet, as i would like to. but like caring for the lemons, i should be nice to the music, to my sonata partner mr. salamander who has been subjected to much different environment (he is a professional orchestral player most of the time), and to the kind souls who have shared their riches so freely, allowing me to be inspired, to try this 'different' sort of way.
so once again, a bit of magic today. in the soft blankets of wintry snow, i had speckles of meyer-lemon scented spell. its sweetness overflowed, from the simple postcard, from the beethoven score, to my mind, to my music partner, to the evening, where i am still reminiscing the exuberant, vibrant loveliness of fragile, beautiful things, offered so freely and willingly from one human to another.
here is a great warm greetings and hint of meyer lemon. thanks everyone!