Dear Shaina,

It’s hard for me to believe that you have finished a semester already! I had forgotten how quickly time flies when swallowed in semester bites. At least in my own life, I can track the markers in real time. As far as your life goes, whole chunks of space go missing…and the moments of missing are sharp and ever present.

Although I hate to rush time any more than it propels itself, I know that it won’t be long before Passover takes over my kitchen, and you’ll be right in the middle of it…for at least a few weeks. Being with you in the flesh and getting the protracted scoop on your life is worth sacrificing the next few weeks to the time vortex. It may even be warm by then.

We got hit by a snow/ice storm a few weeks ago, and Dad and I spent four days iced in at our winter chalet at the top of the hill. Dad kept a roaring fire going…and I made soup.

I loved being holed up together, safe and warm with plenty of good food and books…and no obligations or commitments. Who knew that I, being so outwardly driven and people-needy, could relish the solitude and peace imposed by a winter storm? I didn’t want to leave. Maybe the yoga is really working.

I planned on making some pea soup for someone who just had a baby. Bubbe used to make pea soup in huge pots. It was always thick and very green. I can’t say I loved it. Maybe the pea-green color was just too much for my child-centered visual palate. Later I was exposed to pea soup recipes that boasted a base of ham-hocks or bacon bits. I couldn’t even imagine it! I almost swore off pea soup altogether.

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties and exposed to vegetarian cookbooks that I began to experiment with pea soup. I added spices like cumin or curry and tried a touch of wine or sherry to make it a little more exotic. The options are infinite.

For my pea soup, I barely made it home with the few extra ingredients I needed when the snow took us by surprise. People were stranded everywhere and slept in stores, offices, even the temples. Some walked for miles to get home or pick up kids from school. Those who got stuck at the synagogue didn’t suffer too badly. One of the caterers was there preparing for an upcoming mitzvah, and no one went hungry.

I didn’t feel one bit guilty adorned in my sweats and slippers, puttering in my kitchen as I fed my super-sized pot with split peas, freshly chopped celery, onions, garlic and carrots.  Making soup is like magic. Put hard, cold chunks of assorted vegetables, some spices and a little water into a pot…wait a few hours…out comes the perfect comfort food.

They are predicting more freezing rain and snow this week. I can’t wait! I also can’t wait to see you…soon, very soon!

Love, Mom