Saturdays in the growing season are my longest days. It starts early when I set out to shop the Farmer’s Market and plan the evening menu based on the day’s discovery. It includes prepping all day in the midst of all the other regular activity in the kitchen. It peaks with a 5:30pm dinner service and runs til about 9pm when I turn it all over to my cooks and I sit down and take a load off my weary feet.
I’ve come to look forward to these days despite their length and subsequent fatigue. It puts me in a mode that I need to be in more often, one that I don’t do very naturally. It makes me fully engaged, fully present in the moment right in front of me. I can’t think about tomorrow. I have too much on my mind right now.
I took the Strength Finder years ago and discovered that one of my strengths is labeled Futuristic. The consultant who went over the findings with me said that in a room of 50 people, he might find two or three with this strength. As we discussed, I agreed with his assessment as my mind seems to always be focused on what’s next. My dreams tend to include questions that start with, “what if…?” I am fascinated about what could be more than what is. Its for this very reason I don’t have a tatoo. I’d only be thinking about what this thing is gonna look like when I’m an old man.
But as Karen and I find ourselves reckoning once again with her cancer, my strength turns into a weakness. My thoughts of the future run rampant. My question of “what if…?” takes a different meaning. I need to stop looking so far ahead. I need to live fully today.
This means celebrating what is happening today. Today Karen is doing great. She has had very little side effects from the chemo. She worked everyday this week, including Monday, the day of her treatment. She is doing everything she normally does, like riding her bike to and from work, and for that we rejoice, inspite of my reflexive nature to wander toward a time and place in the future.
And its here that I want to stay, in this moment of today, because today is what we each possess. None of us own tomorrow. And here is how cooking reminds me of this truth and grounds me to this day alone.
Cooking for others is an immediate recreation. Food is for today and in order for it to be done right, it needs to be made daily, routinely, freshly prepared and consumed with pleasure and joy. Its why you don’t serve your guests leftovers. You want to bestow something special, however simple it may be. The act of serving another person the gift of food is all about the moment in which it is shared.
I found myself happiest today as I was lost in the tasks of shucking corn, peeling carrots, juicing blackberries, baking pound cake, and grinding pesto. Worries of Tomorrow were lost to summer-ripe tomatoes and one inch thick Berkshire pork chops as they went on the plate.
Cooking was an ample therapist tonight.