I saw him behind plate glass as I exited the bank: one-third of the way up the window, a four-inch long praying mantis. Perhaps he was checking on interest rates. Or maybe he was just grasping on for dear life, still in shock from the earthquake or in preparation for the upcoming hurricane.
He must’ve been reading the papers or listening to the radio: Everywhere, people are being cautioned to ready themselves; to have food and water and travel plans worked out. I have made no such preparations, although I did fill up the gas tank at the local—expensive—BP yesterday. My usual trick is to just put a couple of dollars into the tank at the pricier place then limp as quickly as I can into the station two miles and twenty cents a gallon away. I told myself, watching the dials spin wildly behind the glass, that I ought to fill the tank now, just in case. But the truth of the matter is I’m too lazy to stop for gas again so soon.
* * *
Thanks to the library book sale, Squints is the proud owner of thirteen cookbooks. He’s got one on desserts featuring Cool Whip in every recipe; a casserole book that employs Campbell’s Soup on each page. And, although we have no pot, he picked up a book on fondue. But there are a couple of promising books: Street Foods shows how to make food popularized on the city’s streets: Philadelphia cheese steaks, corn dogs, pad Thai. And the sandwich book looks interesting: For lunch yesterday, Squints made me a double-layer banana peanut butter sandwich with cream cheese and an interesting concoction of brown sugar and cinnamon topping. While I proclaimed it delicious, I decided to split it with V. Filibuster eschewed it entirely, claiming to be full, despite the fact that she hadn’t yet eaten.
After lunch, Squints cleared out my pots and pans cabinet and, before they had a chance to be properly introduced, hastily married those pots and pans to the bakeware: A sauce pan sidled up to the baking dish; the pie plate hooked up with the frying pan. But the stack of cookie sheets eyed the steamer basket warily and refused to budge for something so insubstantial and light.
In the now-clean cabinet, Squints lined up his new cookbooks, his cooking tools, too—tools I’d purchased for him as Christmas gifts, but by the New Year had taken over for myself. He grabbed a few of my hot pads and my duplicate spices and declared himself in business. “I’m making dinner every night next week, Mom.”
It ought to make for an interesting seven days. I suspect I may lose a bit of weight. And if I gain, you can most certainly blame the Cool Whip.
* * *
My friend recently presented me with a plastic Ziploc baggie full of popcorn seeds: Heirloom Pennsylvania Dutch butter flavored popcorn seeds to be exact, children of the seeds she’d grown last year. She is going off to grad school to nurture her mind, and so, for a time, will no longer have time to nurture her garden.
Seeds are a gift not to be lightly given or received. Seeds hold within them hope and promise; and with their gifting, there is an element of trust that you will care for this new generation of life.
I admire my friend: There isn’t much interest in seed saving. Sometimes, in fact, it’s no longer legal or even possible to save seeds. With the development of “suicide seeds,” the seed industry has the potential to hold hostage the farmers and the food they produce.
And so I take these seeds seriously. It is with much joy—and a bit of trepidation—that I received them: They’re my personal declaration of independence and I’m nervous about my success. I hope I am up to this task set before me.
Still, I can’t wait to tuck those beautiful golden kernels of hope down into the soil; can’t wait to see their green shoots popping forth from the ground; can’t wait to return to my friend the grandchildren or great-grandchildren seeds. But I must wait.
I consider putting the popcorn in the garage with the rest of seeds, but I don’t want to attract mice. So I bring them inside and tuck them in the pantry, imaging eleven months hence praying mantises clinging to tall green stalks swaying in gentle wind.
And then I imagine Squints making popcorn for dinner one night—popcorn with butter and brown sugar and cinnamon—and I take my packet of seeds from the closet and tuck them into the hope chest in my bedroom where they will await the spring in silence.
Labels: Buying Locally, Community, Consumption, Cooking, Culture, Environmentalism, Family, Gardening, Trust