Slice of life - Dyeing for change

by Meg Heiman

At times, the step I’m taking seems minute, even irrelevant. Other times it looms large and frightening. I’ve decided to stop coloring my hair. <BR><BR>I’ve made this decision against the advice of nearly everyone I know. “You’ll become invisible,” one woman warned me. <BR><BR>“You’ll look older than a grandma!” my kids said (which is probably true because all of their grandmas color their hair). <BR><BR>Even my own mother, whom I usually have to beg for advice, was quick to say, “Honey, DON’T do it,” with more emphasis in her response than I would have received if I had told her I’m leaving my husband and kids to run off to Spain with a 26-year-old matador. <BR><BR>Nonetheless, I’m doing it. <BR><BR>We all know our culture values youthfulness. At least that’s what we hear. But if nothing else, turning 40 last summer has made me realize -finally - that I yam what I yam. And what I yam is grey on top. <BR><BR>Some would call it prematurely grey, for my first grey hairs started cropping up when I was in my late teens. By the time I was in my mid-20s, I had a grey patch in front. From that time until now, after every 28 shampoos or so, I’d slather in a bottle of Clairol’s Natural Instincts in Medium Ash Brown.<BR><BR>I question why I even began coloring my hair in my mid-20s in the first place. Perhaps for the same reason it’s a bit scary to stop doing it now: I’ll look 10 years older. <BR><BR>Being grey on top will definitely age me. I figure on a good day - when my face doesn’t show signs of tiredness or stress and if the sun’s rays hit me at just the right angle - I will look (at best) closer to 50 than 40. For the remaining 99% of the time, I’ll look, as my kids said, older than a grandma. <BR><BR>If looking older than a grandma at 40 is the hand that fate has dealt me, then so be it. I’m a member of a new club now, the “looking-over-f—ty club,” but without the 10% discounts. <BR><BR>Instead, the major perk of this club is that, in the timely words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and with all due respect, I’m “free at last.” <BR><BR>I’m free from the thoughts that bound me until now to do after every 28 shampoos what I thought I should do, and for that I will gladly trade a lifetime supply of Clairol’s Natural Instincts in Medium Ash Brown and 10 years of relative youthfulness. <BR><BR>In Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book “Gift From The Sea,” she refers to the mid-stage in life as “a kind of second adolescence.” The reward of making it through adolescence is liberation, and that which I missed out on the first time around, I intend to catch this second time around. <BR><BR>So goodbye, Miss Clairol; hello, Ms. Grey. <BR><BR>One advantage of seemingly aging so quickly - to think so much changed in the span of 40-some shampoos - is a renewed interest in nutrition. I need to take good care of myself now that I’m getting and looking older. Minestrone fits the bill, especially this time of year. It’s good served piping hot, and on a -30 degree day, hot is good. Enjoy! <BR><BR>MINESTRONE SOUP <BR><BR>1/4 stick butter <BR><BR>2 yellow onions, chopped <BR><BR>5 c chicken broth <BR><BR>4 carrots, peeled and chopped <BR><BR>3 stalks celery, chopped <BR><BR>2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced <BR><BR>1 handful fresh green beans, cleaned and ends cut off, sliced <BR><BR>2 15-oz cans white kidney beans or great Northern beans, rinsed and drained <BR><BR>2 medium zucchini, diced <BR><BR>1/2 head small green cabbage, shredded <BR><BR>1-2 large cans diced tomatoes, undrained <BR><BR>Salt and pepper to taste <BR><BR>1/2 c uncooked spaghetti or linguini, broken <BR><BR>Finely shredded Parmesan cheese<BR><BR>Heat butter in a large pot. Add onions and cook over medium heat until onions are golden brown. Slowly stir in broth. Add carrots, celery, potatoes, and green beans. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes. Stir in beans, zucchini, cabbage, and tomatoes. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Season to taste. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes more or until vegetables are tender. <BR><BR>Meanwhile, cook pasta in a separate pot according to directions. To serve, place cooked pasta in a bowl. Add soup. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.<BR><BR>