That’s what my friend Deanna said to me last Saturday afternoon at the close of one of four book appearances scheduled inside of a week. She should know; we’ve been friends since the 7th grade and that’s just the sort of thing you see in someone you’ve been connected to for that long.
“You’re right,” I nodded.
Pushing my edge.
I’m a writer. A mother. A cook. I do these things at home, usually with just the company of myself and a cup of tea. Late in the day I’m joined by my children, then my husband, and sometimes friends. With the kids at school, my work space is quiet, save for the whirr of the blender or the sound of keys tapping on a keyboard. My connection to the outside is through the written word on a page or in a recipe or through email. Sometimes, I have phone conversations. Occasionally, I meet in person…with an editor, a colleague, an intern, a friend.
That’s all changed, though. Since my book came out in mid-July, I’ve taken on a new role. As promoter. Of my book. Of myself. I’ve had the tables turned as a writer. Now I’m the interviewee, not the interviewer. I’m booked on radio shows, on TV. I stand up in front of small crowds in bookstores and farmers’ markets and private homes to talk about my book, demonstrate recipes, and do my best to sound smart and to entertain. I am a little bit uncomfortable a lot of time.
Over the course of writing my book people told me it would be just like having a fourth child. For me though, it’s the book promoting, not the writing, that reminds me of birth, of that moment every woman who has delivered a baby knows…when the newborn’s head is “right there” and it hits you, a truth that couldn’t be truer: there is no going back, you must push this being out into the world and only you can do it.
Not nearly as dramatic, but similar in feeling, is getting this book out into the world. I knew this time would come, but only now does it sink in that it’s up to me to make it happen.
It’s like in yoga, when some lithe yogini circling the room says, “find your edge.” Translation: get yourself so deep into a pose that it’s a place of discomfort. Then stay there for a little while, see what you are made of. As one yoga teacher advised several years ago, “notice that it’s hard, and do it anyway.”
I’ve had days when I’ve wanted to climb under the covers, to lay on the floor, to cry uncle, to just not show up, to retreat. It’s been hard, but I’ve been doing it anyway.
Tonight is the last of my four appearances. Then, I have a break for a few weeks before the schedule ramps up again. I’ll be heading home, to my place of comfort, where I’ll brew a pot of tea and rest up for the next time I have to push my edge.
It makes sense that this recipe comes from a resort up in the wine country called Solage, since sitting with a cup of this tea feels like a mini spa treatment. It’s supremely comforting, warming, and delicious, the perfect elixir now that we are on the edge of Fall.
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon cardamom pods, crushed
3 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons loose black tea such as Assam Harmony or English Breakfast
2 cups milk
Put the ginger, sugar, honey, vanilla bean, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and water in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar and honey. Simmer for 5 minutes, stir in the tea, and remove from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes then strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheese cloth-lined strainer. Pour tea back into saucepan and add the milk. Gently heat until warm. Serve in tea cups.
Makes three to four servings.
Adapted from a recipe by Brandon Sharp of SolBar. Reprinted with permission.