“So now you must choose… Are you a child who has not yet become world-weary? Or are you a philosopher who will vow never to become so? To children, the world and everything in it is new, something that gives rise to astonishment. It is not like that for adults. Most adults accept the world as a matter of course. This is precisely where philosophers are a notable exception. A philosopher never gets quite used to the world. To him or her, the world continues to seem a bit unreasonable – bewildering, even enigmatic. Philosophers and small children thus have an important faculty in common. The only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wonder.” (Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World)
When one looks at pictures with scenery like this, of stunning places and adventurous times, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what to write about it. But, such is my reality right now. Writer’s block, motivation lacking, the wild tempests of life unexpected, the general wearing down of one’s reserves. Whatever the reason, I find myself in a bittersweet state of mind: remembering the feelings elicited by a salty, invigorating trip to sea in a small, turn-of-the-century boat, but without the elegance of word to describe it.
But it’s times like that which sustains my sense of hope. It’s hard to become world-weary when you’ve seen the Fjords of Norway, or a Redwood tree, or a giant rift in the earth’s crust. When I stop and actually think about what it means to be and experience, I feel quite philosophical, but paradoxically, it is in these moods where I find the smallest source of expression. It’s a conundrum, really: one makes gains, embraces introspectiveness and comes to understand and come to terms with oneself and the fickle nature of life, and then you’re expected to explain it all, to put into words what’s really experienced on a plane beyond language.
Maybe a picture is worth a thousand words. Clichés exist for a reason, right? Maybe you will see these pictures and taste the salty wind, feel the sun cutting through the chill, and let the droning engine lull you into peaceful contemplation. Maybe you’ll wonder at the history of such a place and such a boat, and imagine Vikings setting out to maraud, and coming home to smoking chimneys and a roasting pig! Maybe you’ll think of what’s wondrous in your own life, both in the grand scheme of things and in the small details. Or, then again, maybe not.
Either way, the next time you have a chilly afternoon with enough sun to warm you, break out the grill and try this lovely, simple meal. If you catch your own fish—whether from a Norwegian Fjord or a backyard creek—more the better.
The following is enough for 2-3 servings.
4 fish fillets (cod, trout, or similar)
salt and pepper
small bunch of carrots with greens
your favorite salad
Prepare your salad of choice and set it aside, ready to eat when the fish comes off the grill. I chose a garden salad with lemon juice and olive oil dressing.
Set up the grill (the snazzy little grill we used can be folded up flat for easy packing on road trips!) and light the charcoal so it can get hot while you prepare the packets. Lay out a double thickness of foil for the carrots, and two to divide the fish between.
Cut the carrots into sticks and the greens into the same length. Pile all of them together in the middle of the foil, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Squeeze over the juice of half an orange, and save the rest of the orange for the fish. Fold the foil into a packet and set aside while you prepare the fish packets.
Slice the remaining orange half, half the lime, and the whole lemon. Place two fillets of fish on each double thickness of foil. Arrange the citrus slices over the fish. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime half over the fish, then drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Fold the foil into packets (I make a packet with a single layer of foil, then turn it crosswise and make a perpendicular packet with the second layer.
When your charcoal is ready, put the packets on the grill for about 20 minutes (if your grill is small, you might have to cook them one after the other, like we did).
Be careful when you open the packets, as steam will puff out!
Make sure you let the charcoal cool completely, and please dispose of it in a responsible manner!