Winter Solstice and Wu

Mr. Wu's holiday meal included an exquiste platter of Peking Duck and vegetables.

It’s been quite a long while since I’ve written an entry…for a number of reasons the planets in my small corner of the galaxy seem to have been out of alignment for the past few months.

But now,  precisely because of the way the planets are aligned in the cold winter sky and the way the  sun sits frozen in its winter solstice, it seems the time is right for me to begin writing again.

Today is the shortest day of the year. As well as the longest night. On this day of distilled daylight a song called “Live Like You Were Dying” comes to my mind.

The song, written by Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman, was performed by Tim Mc Graw and describes the answers a man gives when asked what he did after he was given the news that he had a terminal illness.

He responds that he “went skydiving and Rocky Mountain climbing”, adding that he “loved deeper and spoke sweeter, and gave the forgiveness [he’d] been denying”. In summary he says, “I hope someday you get the chance to live like you are dying.”

That’s what I’ve been thinking about today, how the things that matter can be so easily brushed aside by deadlines and commitments.  How it is that the things about life that are most important to us get so easily misplaced while the most mundane activities take precedence. On this briefest and most fleeting of days I was determined to try to do some things that matter to me.

My life is not one of great adventure, but really, I don’t need to jump aboard a “bull named Fu Manchu” like the song’s protagonist does in order to feel alive and in the moment.

In fact, I’ll take a meal of “Duck a la Wu” over “2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu ManChu” anyday of the week!

Oh yum oh brown and crispy heaven. The skin on the duck was roasted to a deep mahogany and was as crisp and light as a potato chip! These fragile  pieces were too delectable to wrap up in the rice wrappers. As Emerson said, beauty is its own excuse for being–so it follows that one shouldn’t make a mishmash of something that ought to be enjoyed in its solitary splendor!

Mr. Wu prpeared a dish of shrimp, scallops and crab to complement the platter of Peking Duck.

Mr. Wu likes to serve complementary dishes, and often creates  very original pairings. Like the dish that Mr. Wu chose to serve last night– a dish that is not on his menu.

It was absolutely superb and allowed the Peking Duck to maintain its dominant roost on the menu while at the same time playing a delightful supporting role.

Nestled in an emerald bed of his perfectly cooked (and it is ALWAYS perfectly cooked) asparagus was a mounded reef of pink shrimp, creamy white scallops, and vermillion flecked crab meat–all washed with a delicately briny oyster sauce. Divine. The pairing could not have been better.

Mr. Wu carved a white rose to garnish the Peking Duck platter.

Mr. Wu’s presentation for this holiday meal was as beautiful as I have ever seen–and I’ve seen some truly artful compositions gracing his tables. The white rose was so lovely, and the orange monarch butterfly Mr. Wu deftly carved from a carrot was a delicate masterpiece.

I fear that those of us who frequent Mr. Wu on a regular basis (and I am certainly not alone in this, because I see other “regulars” there all the time) sometimes begin to take the extra care and attentions of Mr. Wu for granted.

I was most impressed with the beauty of Mr. Wu’s gratitude last night and the way in

A butterfly garnishes the delightful seafood entree.

which he expressed it, which was distinctively Eastern. There is a wholehearted generosity of spirit that permeates the manner in which he says “thank you.” It surpasses good manners, and goes beyond being gracious into a state of spiritual gracefulness.

I’m a grateful person. The darkness of my losses makes  me all the more appreciative of the precious light that remains.

And as the days begin to grow longer,  I’m encouraged by Mr. Wu’s holiday celebration to fill them with more hours of  lightness and joy by following his example  of generosity and  gratitude.

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