Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The smell of home

I wrote this poem quite a few years ago. It wasn't much even at the time, but the idea still holds true, at least for me:

Hurrying cars speed home.
She walks, slowly,
Trudging her feet.
The day was stormy,
The work hard,
The hours draining of the mind.

The constant buzzing of downtown.
How it makes her head pound!
She trips,
The pavement decorating her knee
With the body's war paint.
The metallic smell makes her eyes burn.

Onto the bus.
The ogre just grunts at her pass
And the smile flees from her lips in fear.

Opening the door,
Stepping inside,
She drops her bag.
Inhaling deeply,
The fragrance of gingerbread fills her.
The taste of Home.
A smile.
And she knows she will be alright
By tomorrow.

I baked almost all day today and the house--my house--smells like cinnamon and brown sugar. There's just so much comfort in things that are homemade.

When people got married, we used to make food. When people died, we used to make food. When our children had a day off school, we used to make food with them. We've lost that. Now we buy food. Our idea of baking with our children is a canister of our favourite Pillsbury cookies, pre-formed into little portions, if you're lucky.

Something's happened to us. We simply don't care anymore. We don't care that there's something soulful, something spiritual about doing things ourselves. There's a healing quality to good, old-fashioned work. At the end of it, when we've done the work, we can stand back and enjoy the fruits of our (real) labour. There's nothing worth celebrating about frozen food or pre-shaped cookies.

Today the girls came over and we had girls' night, like we do every week. This week it was a pasta with spinach on the menu. I offered to pick up some spinach and my friend insisted it was OK, because she already had some. She arrived with frozen spinach. I didn't know such a thing existed. If that weren't enough, between the other four girls who were cooking with me, none of them could efficiently peel a clove of garlic because they'd never done it. These are intelligent women with university degrees, the lot of them. They live on their own (or with partners) and cook on a relatively regular basis. And yet they were defeated by garlic, all of them.

I think I'm a rare breed, because I was the only one in the room who knew what she was doing. I don't blame young people for not knowing things if they were never taught them, but surely at some point we need to stop and look at what we're doing. At some point we need to realize we're missing out on the joy of the simple things in our little pre-packaged "paradise".

Now excuse me, I have to get back to my knitting...


Anonymous Jen said...

For me, the only thing I like to cook is stuff you bake, or breakfast things. One of my earliest memories is of my sister teaching me how to crack an egg...I think I was three.

What strikes me the most is the fact that most people don't really realize that the spinach you're eating that you got from the freezer genetically altered, and is probably causing you some health problems, or will cause you some health problems. There are just some things humans weren't meant to "master" and I think the genetic makeup of organic food is one of them!

August 12, 2010 at 11:47 AM  
Anonymous lucy said...

It's weird how we can't do the basic of tasks yet we maybe some of the smartest people around. I think sometimes we simply don't have time. It's definitely easier to cook and it's much more fun to do so. And I agree we should stop and not pass on the simpler things in life before robots do all the work for us.

I wish I had time you know, to bake, sew, knit, but I'm still in school and I barely have time to do free reading!! So when I read your blog, it makes me happy because I can live vicariously though you :)

August 14, 2010 at 10:52 PM  

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