Author: springmagazine

Let’s eat! “A Bite of China,” bubble teas, and Ina Garten’s lemon bars

Let’s eat! “A Bite of China” was originally posted in July. Here, I’m updating it with some writing on bubble teas and Ina Garten’s lemon bars. Enjoy! “A Bite Of China” There are moments in “A Bite of China” that stay with you long after you watch the show. A mother and daughter walking together at dawn, digging for mushrooms in the mountains of Yunnan. They easily push their sticks in the dirt to gently push up a priced mushroom that sells for thousands in city restaurants. Inside a ger in Inner Mongolia, in the early hours, a woman dips a ladle in milk to make breakfast for the family. The man will herd their sheep on the grassy plain. Fermented tofu nuggets are laid out on baskets on a balcony before they are hauled out to a busy city sidewalk and sold. The most simple yet amazing street food. More than technique and skill, “A Bite of China” is about taste and heritage, habit, livelihoods, the knowledge and skill that comes from working with …

A soapmaker’s journey

The workshop of MoonDance Soaps & More is so fragrant from the soaps made inside, the fragrance wafts out well beyond the shop, out to the driveway. Inside the workshop, which is a converted garage, Rachel DuBois, founder and owner of the business, has finished a morning of mixing solutions and pouring. Now, it’s time to cut soaps and setting them aside to be “cured,” for the saponification process to complete. The natural soap-making process, which takes 4-6 weeks from start to finish, is how DuBois has made her soaps since founding the business in 1998, and it’s one she steadfastly adheres to. Her staff will help with making other products and packaging, but she is the only one who makes the soaps. “It’s a caustic process,” DuBois said, and added. “You have to be really respectful. My kids can’t come in here when I’m doing this.” The soaps are poured into big molds, then set aside to cool. While they’re cooling, the soaps have the color and thickness of what look like beeswax candles. …

Blog post: Gemstones in January

The quietness of January. You’re a bit drowsy from the holidays. A bit empty maybe. January is a good time to challenge yourself and do some spiritual work. You go out, and the air is cold and the sunlight slants. It’s quiet. The trees are white. In the world, everyone is drowsy and quiet. Back to work after the holidays. You sit at your desk for a couple hours before blinking, “Oh right, I have to do some work.” Or at least, this is how this used to go. A few years ago, I started wanting to get new gemstones in January. I went to Rare Earth Beads in Durham today, the last day of the month. They have a large book called, “The Book of Stones: Who They Are and What They Teach.” The world was so cluttered, and I felt so cluttered, I had no idea what to get. Mujiba Haroon, who works at the store, told me that recently, customers have been buying Obsidian, which protects against negativity. January’s birth stone is …

Save RDU Forest: A timeline

An ongoing timeline for all major developments in the Save RDU Forest issue. March 2015: NC State Parks system celebrates its centennial at Umstead Park on March 5. The first state park was created in 1915 at Mount Mitchell. At the event, Gov. Pat McCrory designates the first week of March as “North Carolina State Parks Week.” March 2015: NC legislature bill filed on March 26 proposes to swap more than 300 acres between Umstead and RDU, much to the surprise of The Umstead Coalition, the nonprofit that preserves the park. The bill eventually failed in the Senate. June 2015: Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority begins the planning process for its $2.7 billion Master Plan “Vision 2040.” March 2016: Voters pass $75 million bond for state parks. October 2016: RDU holds last public workshop on the plan. October 2016: The RDUAA board unanimously approves the “Vision 2040” plan on Oct. 20, 2016. July 2017: The Conservation Fund, an Arlington, Va.-based conservation group, Umstead Coalition, the nonprofit that preserves Umstead Park, and Meetup group Triangle Off-Road Cyclists offer …

New York in summer 2019

New York in 2001 before the Twin Towers fell had weight, history, and was full of commerce and activity. New York during the Aughts was a place that kept becoming more sensual and spiritual. But New York by summer 2019 had been reduced to a tourist version of itself. Recollections from July 26-28, 2019. Day 1 The cab driver raced us down the highway toward Manhattan. On the right, high rises loomed. Great shiny monoliths. I pointed out the window and asked if that was Brooklyn. “No!” the cab driver exclaimed, “that’s Queens!” Queens. I couldn’t believe it. It was built up beyond recognition. The glass high rises went past as we flew down the highway. What has it been like living in Queens during all this? I remember apartment-hunting in Astoria. A coworker was from Queens. Working class to middle class. Queens was food and families to me. Back home, I was glued to my laptop most days as the sun beat down, oddly frozen. I had no energy and in hindsight, I felt …

At Elmo’s Diner, a story of humility and joy

Cam was a familiar sight at Elmo’s Diner on Ninth Street. Most nights, he would come for dinner wearing a nice shirt, sit at one of his familiar spots at the counter, patiently wait to be served and banter with the staff in his characteristic gentle, easy manner. “Cam,” as he was known to Elmo’s staffers, was John Camden Hundley Jr. He died in 2016 at 83 years old. Cam ate at Elmo’s so often, around seven o’clock most nights, the staff at the busy restaurant out of habit would start looking out for his car at his usual parking spot. “Is Cam here yet?” people would start asking. He was supposed to call Elmo’s if he wasn’t going to come. His birthday was in the date book. Although Hundley died in 2016, his death still weighs on the staff, and memories of him are cherished and protected. People are reluctant to be interviewed, for fear the emotions would come to the surface and there would be tears. Chrissy Yuorick, who waited on him often, …