There's a distinct difference in being content, and realizing that there is absolute peace and joy where you are.
I thought it was great being content. Content sounds full, needing little and grinning much.
But there's a place beyond that has an immense feeling of gratitude and calm.
I moved to Arizona from Colorado and for years I was constantly comparing and feeling like I left home. That there was this place, a better place, waiting for me to return.
It was driving back from my little vacation when I realized, I AM in a beautiful place.
I was overwhelmed with a feeling that was beyond being content in this land, but actually feeling like it was home. A home where all is right and wonderful. Where everything is familiar and I have little need to be anywhere else.
Home in a desert with its mysteries and treasures.
This used to seem empty, grungy and void. I longed for mountain ranges and seasons. Snow and pine trees.
Now, this place is all that I could ever ask for and more.
Every home has its quirks and oddities, but joy turns these into cherished institutions that you are not just proud of, but seek out to define the place where you are.
When I first moved here I noticed the peeled painted signs on the small fruit and vegetable shops reading "date shakes". Dates used to be a bigger commodity here, but now it's very difficult to find a locally grown date. They are all from overseas or at best California.
In it's day Arizona had some amazing dates and thus the date shake was born. I actually haven't indulged in this shake. I've pulled in to many a dusty fruit stand to check out the goods and shoo away the numerous flies. Never have I felt like rolling the lactose intolerance dice when in these establishments. This fine shacks don't seem to have the most exquisite facilities, but that it part of the charm. So I refrain from partaking in the native feat of dates and rich, dairy creamy ice cream.
But I will make one in my own in my kitchen and consider myself a native.
This shake really is divine in it's simplicity. Dates have this flavor that titters on the edge of caramel. I adore dates and I'm always seeking out if there are any local gems still lingering around.
My favorite base for this is still this "creamer" that I made. I get a little tired of coconut flavor in everything, but feel free to use full fat coconut milk, or home made almond milk, or if you're in to it - vanilla ice cream.
I Heart Arizona Date Shake
1 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup boiling water
2 cups "creamer" or any other milk alternative
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 frozen banana
1 1/2 cups ice
pinch of cardamon
In a bowl add the dates and water. Cover with a plate and let sit for about 15 minutes to soften the dates. In a blender add the dates and milk and blend until smooth. I like to do this first, before the ice, while the dates are still gooey. The ice tends to firm them back up. Add the ice, banana and pinch of cardamon and blend again.
This is rich and creamy and reminds me of this place.
Arizona and all of it's character that used to never quite measure up, sitting before me in my glass.