Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Here comes the rain

I keep checking my blog, hoping that, miraculously, all I've been thinking about will suddenly appear in written form (with pictures too, of course). But every time, without fail I simply see the dizzying up-side-down photo of the inside of a yellow balloon, and a title that reads, "Totally Not About Food."

If this space is a place to write about my life (and food), then that title pretty much sums up my life since January. I may have cooked, a lot. I may have had some stories to tell (whether I told them or not), but my writing life has been, for a while, totally not about food.

You see, I've been working on a project, and until a few weeks ago I didn't think I needed to say much about it here.

Then I had a conversation with a couple at the farmer's market. The man was wearing a Donald Duck shirt, and this shirt image is so bright in my memory I hardly remember anything else. What did they look like? What was his wife's name? Did they buy anything? All I know is that it was the end of the market and we were all quite chatty. They found out that it was my last market day, that I was not getting another job, and that I would be filling all the nooks and crannies of my time whittling away at this project I called "The Book." They both acted superbly interested in my little venture (people usually look uneasy or bored after about a sentence), and they gave me a gratifying display of enthusiasm and support.

They were delightful. And concerned. How, they asked, would they be able to keep track of me if I were no longer to be at the market?

Well, I said, I do have this blog...

I am not actually certain what change occurred or why. All I know is that one minute I am talking to the Donald Duck guy and the next, I am realizing that I can't possibly continue writing the blog or the book if I don't join the two worlds. I have only mentioned The Book in passing before, referring to it as a 'writing project,' but we never really talked about it. It makes sense to again, after another mini silence, explain myself, this time in full.

Since the end of November, 2010, nearly a year ago, I have been working two days a week on The Book. Two mornings a week (the only two mornings I have the house to myself, mind you) I write on the wide and interwoven subjects of land and faith, or lack thereof. My subject matter ranges from fire science to sermons, from the the county of Yolo to Vancouver, Canada, and back again. It is all up here (see me pointing to my head); it is all in here (see me pointing to my gut); it is slow in coming out here (see the keypad).

I have been trying, for some protective, perfectionist reason, to keep this blog and that book as separate as separate can be. I have these two ideas, you see. There is this book, of geography and the holy, and then there is this other book, out there, in the future, with the stuff of this blog in it--mostly food and family, and probably more land and holiness too.

I do not like the two to mix. I like compartments. But then, if my food is any example, I tend to mix everything up eventually. It's easier, less stressful, and in the end, it tastes better.

So here I go again. I have been debating whether or not it is realistic to continue to write the book and the blog and still be around and awake for my wee family. Perhaps it is not. Something's gotta give. But, you know what? This is life! I can pretend to be driven, to write this all-consuming book before my (ahem) 30th birthday and not do much of anything else. No blogging, no baby showers, no fruitcake (!), no nonsense. But that's not my style. Unless I move to the coast by myself and live off of noodles and coffee for the next six months--somehow this still sounds appealing--I am not going to finish this book anytime soon. Annie Dillard wrote Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in about two years, and she says she completely shut out the world, writing some days for 16 hours. Two years at even twelve hours a day is a lot. I write, maybe, 16 hours every two weeks. Good Lord, I better buckle up, 'cause I'm apparently here for the long haul. I might as well enjoy the ride.

I was looking something up in an old journal and found a list of ideas for this blog. I was up late and couldn't stop thinking of all the food I loved and wanted to write about: figs, pink peppercorns, sauerkraut, flours, quince, dandelions to eat and to drink, fruitcake, cake in general. I made a note, too that I was apparently not quite as recipe-driven as I was subject driven, as if the recipe at the end of a post or a chapter should be met as a thrilling surprise rather than a tired expectation.

So here we are. I feel like I am about to burst. I have no recipe to share and eat, but only the grand idea of food hanging above our heads like some heavy cloud--so, so ready to rain. Fall has come and with it, change. I can't tell you how happy I am to see the zucchini plant starting to slow its production. And the winter squash! I just bought my first batch last weekend. Tomorrow we will venture to the pumpkin patch.

We'll see how this goes. At least now you know--the rains are coming, and that long, long drive is ahead of us--it could get a little crazy.

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