The Ponds by Mary Oliver


Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them —

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided —
and that one wears an orange blight —
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away —
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled —
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing —
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.


Raspberry Brownies

Maria, the lovely Californian lady who works as one of the managers of the Healthy Life Centre‘s rooms where I teach weekly Yoga classes, made these delicious brownies for a MacMillan charity event last year. What made the brownies so memorable was the tangy flavour and moistness of fresh raspberries. I asked her if she could teach me how to make them and she kindly invited me to bake at her kitchen. It was a fun day and I had the opportunity to get to know Maria more. She loves birds and they love her, we could see them flying outside the kitchen window. Apart from working as a manager at the HLC she is an artist (now we understand why there are always stunningly colourful flowers in the Yoga room). Her paintings have a fascinating dreamlike quality; you can see her work (and her world) here.

Back to the recipe, I strongly recommend to use the best quality dark chocolate you can find. Enjoy! Makes 8 chunky brownies

220 dark chocolate

125 butter chopped

40gr cocoa powder, sifted

200gr caster sugar

125g plain flour, sifted

1tsp baking powder 3 eggs beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract 200gr fresh raspberries

Icing sugar to serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (355F) Grease and line a baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and hold over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate mixture is smooth.
  3. In a separated bowl combine the cocoa, sugar, flour and baking powder. Stir into the chocolate mixture and combine well.
  4. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract and with an electric beater beat until the mixture thickens. Add the raspberries and gently fold through with a metal spoon.
  5. Pour the sticky mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25-30mins or until set around the edges. The brownie should be spriny to touch but slightly wobbly in the centre.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 15-20 minutes. Lift the brownie out of the tin and transfer the board.
  7. With a sieve, sprinkle with icing sugar. Cut into squares and serve warm.