I felt so defeated as I skimmed through my to-do-list. How could I possibly do what I had planned to do with very little time? I quickly scribbled “Check emails” so I could cross it out and feel better about myself. I turned to the clutter at my desk and felt even more stumped. The mindless stream of news and tweets at my screen didn’t help, too. I knew very well that if I stayed at my desk I would waste another afternoon.
I unplugged everything. From my Mac to my phone. No emails. No tweets. No instagrams. No foolish status updates.
With a bowl of calamansi sorbet in my hand, I sank into my favorite chair — a comfortable, indigo reading chair with handsome mid-century lines — across the room from a large sun-soaked window. I stretched out my legs against the heavily scratched hardwood floor and took a long, deep breath. I sat quietly while I listened to Philip Glass. Ever haunting Philip Glass. A rapid cascade of notes from a solitary piano serenaded me. Sad. But beautifully sad.
I carved a spoonful of the sorbet from the white bowl and admired the flecks of green zest strewn throughout. I took a deep whiff and reveled in the fragrant scent of calamansi. A scent like no other. A scent of summers past. Heat swimming around me. Sweat on my forehead. On my temples brushed off with the back of my hand.
I savored the spoonful. The tang. The sweetness. These beguiling, little limes never fail to refresh. Calamansi has this remarkable effect on me. When I was little, my mom used to fix me a glass of freshly squeezed juice every morning. She sweetened it with sugar and chilled it with ice cubes that clinked every time she stirred the juice with a spoon. A swig after a cool shower on a hot summer day always left me refreshed. Reinvigorated. Calamansi repairs and restores. Like an afternoon with Philip Glass. Like a good book. Like a quiet, solitary walk. Pico Iyer couldn’t have written it more beautifully in his New York Times piece,
Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer and happier — than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music. It’s actually something deeper than mere happiness: it’s joy, which the monk David Steindl-Rast describes as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”
A cello joined the lonely piano and it cried mellifluously. I sat quietly in my chair as I happily took everything in. The strings and the piano. The calamansi sorbet. The joy of quiet.
Calamansi Sorbet Recipe
Recipe based on David Lebovitz’s Lemon Sorbet Recipe from his Perfect Scoop, makes about 3 cups
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons calamansi zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed calamansi juice (from about 24 calamansi limes)
In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, mix 1/2 cup of the water and the sugar. Add zest into the saucepan. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1-1/2 cup water, then chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
Stir the calamansi juice into the sugar syrup, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
To make lemon sorbet, Lebovitz uses 2-1/2 cups water, a cup of sugar, zest from two lemons, and a cup of lemon juice.
How to Make Ice Cream Using Freezer Bags
Make a brine with 3 quarts water and 1 pound salt, divide it between two 1-gallon freezer bags, and store bags flat in freezer. To make ice cream or sorbet, sandwich the bag of mix between brine bags, enclosing stack in towels.