Living in Society

Polish-style Soup at Home

Seeded tray of garden vegetables.

As part of a new Saturday tradition, I made a pot of vegetable soup.

Mine is a variation of Krupnik, which is a thick Polish soup made from vegetable broth, containing potatoes and barley (kasza jęczmienna, archaically called krupy — hence the name). I modified the traditional recipe, eliminating meat, mushrooms and dairy, and adding dried lentils for protein. I also used up items in the freezer — shredded zucchini, leeks and green beans. It’s a thick, hearty soup that goes well with a slice of bread. It makes an easy dinner that can simmer on the stove all day, with leftovers. While Mother and Grandmother didn’t make the soup, they would likely recognize mine if they were still living.

On Friday we have an appointment to get the second of two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a necessary step along the way toward returning to a semblance of normal. It will take 10-14 days after the second shot for our bodies to build immunity. After that, we’ll follow CDC guidelines to begin to engage in society again. It’s been a long road.

There is not much unique about this information. It reflects a shared experience not only in the small community where we live, but by fall, for most Americans. President Biden indicated last week vaccines will be available for all who want it. We’re hoping enough people get vaccinated to abate the pandemic this summer.

With our only child living many miles away, our Sundays are usually just the two of us. There are phone calls and occasional video conferences, yet the isolation is palpable. I’m not sure that will change once the coronavirus pandemic is over. We developed new habits and a new way of living that folds into the isolation. It is good preparation for aging.

I’m glad to be finished with dangerous work. My days of working in steel mills, packing houses, and manufacturing plants are behind me. I didn’t realize the risk of infections that came with retail work until retiring. I haven’t been sick since leaving the home, farm and auto supply store. Likewise I haven’t flown on an aircraft in a long while. Last week, I bought gasoline for one of the automobiles for the first time since December. The reduction in work and travel-related risk is positive. Yet I yearn to be with people.

When the coronavirus recedes I plan to seek some form of work. Because of our pensions and relative good health we are okay without it. I want to interact with people, in person. For now I’ll tend my garden and conserve resources… and make Polish soup on Saturdays.

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