A Joyful Wedding Anniversary, Pandan (班兰叶), and Goodbye to Our Little Chakra

Summer is here, and so was our wedding anniversary, so we spent a wonderful weekend on the boat.

Our new pandan plant should arrive within a week. This is a photo of beautiful, mature pandans growing indoors.

Summer is here in my little corner of the world. We spent the weekend on the water from dawn to dusk both days, so the only garden work we got done was watering and feeding. I feel like a bad parent.

It was totally worth it. My husband and I were on the boat both Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, we cruised out to Stonington Harbor, docked the boat, and had an amazing waterside lunch at Breakwater. Best part? Breakwater serves awesome vegan food! I hogged a huge salad, a yummy veggie wrap, truffle fries, mango/lime coleslaw, amazing bread, and watermelon juice.

Today, we’re both red as cooked lobsters and a bit stingy, but who cares? It was a wonderful fifth wedding anniversary weekend and a joyful way to greet summer. As we sat at our table overlooking Long Island Sound, cold drinks in hand, sun on our faces, and the boat docked nearby, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all of it – a beautiful husband of five years, warm sun, ocean waves, our little boat, delicious food, the fellowship of others, the sounds of people laughing and life around us, great service, and the sun bleaching my hair blonde (yes, I’m grateful for that!). (A little lemon juice combed through my hair before we set out in the boat always helps with the blonde ambition.)

I felt incredibly blessed. I’ll tell you something that was reaffirmed for me as we traveled the waves back to our dock in Groton: when we cultivate gratitude for the small blessings of our lives - when we live in that gratitude every day, speak it, and pay our blessings forward to others - more and better blessings come to us. By no means does this shield us from the hardships. The bad times will still come. But gratitude for blessings amplifies them, and makes them even more joyful, and makes the hard times a little less painful.

Our beautiful hamster, Chakra Chen Cho, died Thursday night. He was getting old fast, as hamsters do, and on Thursday night, he was leaving. He laid down on his bedding and struggled to breathe. We stayed close to him and talked to him. Then, without any drama, he stopped breathing. Animals die so gracefully and resolutely.

We buried him with a bouquet of orange hibiscus and purple pansies in the yard next to our other hamster, Wheat Germ, who died 3 years ago. My husband stood on the deck and cried, and I went inside to cry. Yes, the bad times come. There’s no escaping loss. This hamster’s life meant the world to us, and his death hurt. Fly in joy, little Chakra, and may your rebirth be an auspicious one.

The garden is getting its footing at last. The summer veggie plants are beginning to spread. This weekend, they’ll all get a feeding of nitrogen to green them up and push new growth. Today is June 12, and it’s a late start. But with the right care, we’ll have a great crop, even if it’s a bit later than we’d hoped. The wet, cold spring really log jammed garden growth.

In other gardening news, I ordered a young pandan plant, which should arrive within a week. Pandan is a hugely popular subtropical Southeast Asian foliage perennial used for its nutty, vanilla-like flavor and is also called ‘Asian vanilla’. It’s a heavy nitrogen feeder and sun lover that produces lots of green, strappy leaves.

Abundantly in places like Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, people grow pots of pandan around their homes, in their hallways, and in their gardens. Pandan tints food a bright green, hence the utter greenness of Asian foods like Bánh Bò Nuông, which I’m going to make soon. I also ordered pandan paste from an Indo grocery supply online, to use until the plant reaches maturity. I’ll post a photo of this beautiful plant when it arrives.

Be grateful.

Live in peace.

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