Birch bark and Dala horses

Or, how to find warmth in simple gifts and great delight in treading unfamiliar territories.

The third soup-making event of the season was on December 21, gathering Natalie Vestin and E.A Farro, both writers, artists and scientists.

(To find out more about this soup-making series, click here).

An account in semi-regular prose of a soup-making night in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Dala horse by Natalie Vestin

Simple gifts

Material warmth

Handmade Dala horses. Colors so bright against the black pane.

A pomegranate. A perfect shade of red.

A rectangular slab of birch bark, harvested up North.

Flaky on top. Inner layers like skin. Leathery in places.

Peeled. Folded. Cut. Woven.


Intangible warmth

A story of gently subversive rosemaling classes with older ladies.


Open-heart conversations. Vulnerabilities bare.

Lock-down drills. Shared fear of guns.

Tales of past medical emergencies. Of panic and of happy endings.

Light-hearted anecdotes too.

Transient food obsessions. A whole season eating fresh figs in Italy.

Unfamiliar territories

Do tarragon and celeriac go together? The three of us mused about possible ingredients, glide-walking on the outer-rim of the Roseville skating oval.

A quick Google search later, we entered even more unfamiliar taste territory: “add an apple for sweetness”… Tarragon, celeriac and apple soup?

We took a leap of faith, cooked the three ingredients in chicken broth with a carrot, an onion and potatoes for creaminess. (recipe vaguely inspired by this)

Tread down unfamiliar culinary paths. For the fun of it. And for the yummy goodness that might come out of it.

Be bold. And ready for a potential disaster. (note: our experiment was a success!)

Enjoy the brand new flavors of your meal with Italian disco in the background.

Explore uncharted musical territories.

Be bold and open-minded, You might discover your new favorite artist.

If not: change playlist.

One final note:

For years, I thought one had to actively “create” an atmosphere where guests would feel comfortable enough to stick around and really connect with you.

I tried so hard I lost track of spontaneity and of authenticity, defeating my purpose.

I’m starting to see that what you really need to do is to let go of any expectations.

Open your door. Share. Listen. Accept silences.

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