On Banana Bread and Gratitude
Life has its way of making you thankful for things you tend to take for granted.
School, for one. This happened to me recently, as I arrived at school at 6:30 in the morning this past Saturday to help the debate team set up for our annual Forensics tournament. We annually host the fourth largest speech and debate tournament in the state, drawing teams from as far as southern Colorado and Wyoming to pass the day speaking, acting, and debating. This is how I spend my weekends; Saturdays are a blur of 5:00 am wake up calls, long bus rides, and public and extemporaneous speaking. For all the motivation that it takes, I love it. Our team is like a family, and our “suffering” is mutual– we are the unfortunate souls who fell for the only sport that consumes three seasons a year, demands fifty percent of every weekend, and practices week after week from September to April, and then on through the championship season in June.
This weekend, however, was different. We were home, for once, running a tournament in our school. And though running ballots from the classrooms to the Tab Room and back again, selling food in concessions, and cleaning and organizing was exhausting, I treasured the day because it reminded me of something high school students often tend to forget: cherish life as it is, before the school year is spent. Come May, everyone I know will follow their respective paths on to their future, whether it is the underclassmen I know remaining at school, or the seniors I will be graduating with.
I love my school. It is large, and public, in a controversial school district in the upper reaches of Colorado. But it’s beautiful–especially the people, a fact that has been demonstrated through our tribulations as much as our triumphs. In one year, we had our most popular administrator accused of sexual assault, we cowered under desks in a bomb threat, and we transitioned into a grade reconfiguration that moved the district’s freshmen into our already full-capacity facility. Despite all of this, however, we have only been strengthened. We are at once homogeneous and diverse; our community is one built on the fortitude of our school spirit and the tradition of our past.
Debate connects me utterly to the school, and walking through the hallways at sunrise on Saturday reminded me of that. As I walked the empty building, I found for the first time that I was there thinking about the school itself for the first time, as opposed to my connection to the school at any given time. On any normal day I would be preoccupied with getting to my next class on time, or navigating the overflowing hallways, or returning library books–what have you. But on Saturday, it was just me and the linoleum floors, mentally traversing the last three years of my life spent at a school that has helped me to maximize my potential and develop into the person I am today. The linoleum, however, is not to blame. It is the people who have filled my life–the teachers and the friends who I have surrounded myself with who have helped to support me as I have grown.
Nostalgia, I think, is what they call this, though I think I’m experiencing it about five months too early. Having arrived at the midpoint of the year, though, and watching my friends decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives, has stirred something within me. There is a term for the drain of motivation every senior supposedly experiences as the year draws to a close: senioritis. The funny thing is that I have a feeling that I will turn in the opposite direction. Many of my peers think of life as a series of steps; you starts off on the bottom tier, and each new transition is inherently better than the last. High school is replaced with college, college with working life, and so on. I don’t think in such planar terms–life, to me, is more of an uninterrupted cycle, with each transition merely a more developed extension of the last phase of life. Over my three years here, I have poured my heart and soul into the school, getting involved in clubs and activities, tutoring and mentoring younger students, and doing my best to effect positive change both on the school and on the district level. And now I am a senior, and I will be leaving it. Nothing has been wasted, however–all I have done, all the time I have spent, everything–it is all an investment. Next year, I will be somewhere else, as passionate and enthusiastic as ever.
And so, finally, we arrive at banana bread, a food you make to share with friends. Warm and comforting, just like the people I have spent my schooling career with. Banana bread takes something old and turns it in to something new and useful–like overripe bananas turned into a delicious loaf, I will leave high school and recycle my experiences to turn them into something newer than before.
As in the words of Ovid, “All things change, nothing is extinguished. There is nothing the whole world which is permanent. Everything flows onward; all things are brought into being with a changing nature; the ages themselves glide by in constant movement.”
Onward, to college! To life! To banana bread!
What about you, reader? What great adventure next awaits you? What are you thankful for, or sentimental about? …or do you just like banana bread? Post your comments using the link by the title to share your thoughts!
Adapted from AllRecipes
This bread is made using heart-healthy whole wheat flour and sweetened using honey. Simple and delicious, this bread is moist, slightly sweet, and perfect for sharing with loved ones as a snack or breakfast treat.
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional!)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
- In a large bowl, beat oil and honey together. Add eggs, and mix together well. Stir in the mashed bananas and the vanilla, then the flour and salt. Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix, and then add to batter. Blend in chopped nuts, if you’re opting for a nutty version.
- Spread batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes–test the load by inserting a toothpick as the end of the baking time approaches. Cool the loaf on a wire rack for about a half hour before slicing and sharing with friends and family!