The Great Outdoor Soup Kitchen and A Pellet Gun Outburst


September 18, 2022- The line at Courthouse Plaza snaked around to the south side of the Courthouse, and for nearly 3 1/2 hours, people came to purchase a fresh ceramic bowl, and fill it with one or two kinds of soup. The Empty Bowls Project is a worldwide effort to raise money for food security, at the local level. It began in 1990, with a ceramics teacher named John Hartom and his friend Lisa Blackburn, to provide a means to food security in their community in the Detroit area. The concept quickly spread across Michigan and Ohio, then spread across North America. It is now a yearly event in several countries.

I joined this year’s event, the first since 2019, as part of Slow Food-Prescott’s crew. About twenty people, including several Girl Scouts, prepared and served 10 gallons of piping hot Minestrone Soup, with potatoes instead of pasta. The crowd that attended seemed smaller than in 2018, when I last joined the effort, but there were more vendors this time, so maybe the line was just moving faster. I was one of three “ladlers”, along with a local naturalist and the chef herself. It was truly a joyful event, bringing all parts of the Prescott area community together.

We finished the cleanup, at the catering kitchen where the soup had been prepared and cooked, around 3 p.m. Chef was kind enough to give me a lift home, as I’d walked downtown to the event, but the kitchen was 2.5 miles from Home Base. As we approached the neighbourhood, we saw that my street was blocked off by several police cars. I got off at a parking lot near the neighbourhood and walked down the alley across from Home Base, passing four police cruisers, with several officers searching a connecting alley.

It turned out that they were seeking a disturbed individual who had been firing a pellet gun, at one point blowing the rear window out of a neighbour’s vehicle. He had taken off to the south end of the street, and it took the officers another hour or so to locate and subdue him. Fortunately, there were no human injuries.

It was surreal, to have found peace and camaraderie downtown, only to return to my normally sleepy neighbourhood and find such commotion. As I write this, the police and the perpetrator have left, with peace returning.

The Road to 65, Mile 290: The Soup of Good Fortune


September 13, 2015, Prescott-   I spent three hours today, in one of the most worthwhile of endeavours.  The Empty Bowls Project is an annual event in Prescott, on Courthouse Square, where so many of our great community events take place.  I was given the job of Gazpacho Ladeler.  Each of us ladelers gave a contributing patron 6 oz. of soup in either a ceramic bowl, which they had purchased, or in a free Styrofoam bowl.  Patrons could come back for second helpings, so one or two of the more popular soups (i.e. lobster bisque) ran out.

Various restaurants in Prescott and nearby Prescott Valley sent a plenitude of soups, most of them hot.  The gazpacho seemed to be the only one that wasn’t.  Even so, there was just about a bowl left over, when we stopped at 2:10, and the chef came to get her materials. My tangible reward for this effort was two 16 oz. cups of soup, one minestrone and one coconut cauliflower curry.  Far greater, of course, is knowing that a substantial amount of money was raised for the benefit of local food banks.

I went back to the house afterward, and finished reading “Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior”, which recounts Dan Millman’s experiences, whilst on Oahu and Molokai.  I sat, totally concentrating on the last fifty pages of the book, and journeyed with him through various dimensions and states of mind.  He did not use hallucinogens, and I can identify with that, since my own mind can make its way to worlds that hardly make sense, in a tangible context.  This afternoon, I only followed his lead.

After my reading was finished, I was given the message to prepare a certain soup of my own.  I first peeled the rind off a butternut squash, after cleaning out its seeds and slicing off the ends.  Then, I did the same with an eggplant and a red pepper, adding lean ground beef and a few figs, with various seasonings.  Turmeric was put in there, for some reason.  I don’t usually add it to a vegetable soup, but there it was.

The scraps and seeds were then buried in the backyard, in an impromptu garden plot.  I’ve never heard of planting so close to Fall, but that was the message I got- and well, trust the journey.  We’ll see what transpires.

I will regard the resulting concoction as a soup of good fortune- celebrating what appear to be doors opening for me, even as a door of friendship, of two years’ duration, seems to be closing.  Everything happens in its time.