Jack of Many Trades

Chop Fish, Carry Butter Sauce

Originally posted: 2014-10-29

Going into the earth is hard to explain because it's such a simple experience. There's not a lot of flowery words you can put to it. I put down my hands, I lay down roots, I go down. That's it. The bedrock holds me, takes me in. I become it, it becomes me, and there's nothing to do but rest inside it.

What I like about earth is how grounding the work feels. I feel more present and more in the moment, even though earth itself is... well, it's not timeless, but geologic time is not the time scale we're used to. Aside from the vague sense of the history of different types of rock, there's not a lot of sense of time there. There's just now, and everything is now, and worrying about the future isn't very helpful.

Instead I'm battening down the hatches around the house. We've mostly skipped over the nice parts of autumn and gone straight into cold rain, so I'm less inclined to go out. I'm trying to finish up some of the organizing I didn't get to during the summer, I'm just about to sew up some medical stuff, and I'm teaching myself to cook. Last night I made pasta with leftover roast, tonight I made salmon with leftover pasta, and I'm learning to do more than just throw things in the slow cooker.

I appreciate the slow cooker. It's a marvelous invention, and there's definite appreciation of the forethought that has to go into slow cooker cooking. But the shorter-term cooking is more grounding, more earthy for me. When I have something in the oven and a pot and a saucepan on the stove, as I did last night, and I'm keeping an eye on all three, there's nothing else I can do except maybe spare some attention to clean up as I go. If I'm not in the moment, I find out right quick because something gets away from me.

It's a delicious form of chop wood, carry water, as well as a lesson in trusting myself and not being afraid of failure. For years I let myself believe I was 'not good' at cooking - I had some bad experiences in home ec (did you know it's possible to set a crepe on fire?), never particularly learned at home, and my ex very much thought of herself as a Gourmet Chef so I had nothing reasonable to compare myself to. Now, I'm probably never going to be a gourmet chef or appear on a Food Network competition, but I've finally made the connection in my head that I don't have to. I can put the salmon in the oven with a butter and lemon dill vinegar sauce I made on the back burner, and it's not the end of the world if the sauce is a little heavy. Cooking doesn't require perfection; if I wanted to be perfect, I'd learn to bake.

Earth isn't really concerned with perfection. Plants grow where there's dirt, whether it's a good idea or not. Rocks don't usually polish themselves.

Maybe I could use a little polish, but I'll worry about that another time.