Friday, August 5, 2011

Ethel's Kitchen Caper: Summertime Down South

Living with zeal to savor the moment and find something to be grateful for in everything has its challenges in soaring August temperatures during this heat wave of 2011.

My savoring yesterday was the unexpected delight of having an afternoon off, so I went to the old farmers' market, bought bags of summer veggies: fresh tomatoes, squash, cucumbers for marinating, okra and peas. I came home with boxes of freezer bags, fresh produce and an enthusiasm that surprised even me in the sweltering 102 temp my car had cooled down to on the gauge from 103.

What was the source of this burst of energy--this nesting in the kitchen in August?

I donned my coolest, lightest whites like a summer camper, tied on my favorite lavender-blue apron, and got to work. Looking for all the world like a double for Ethel in an old "I Love Lucy" episode, I was fully present to the task at hand.

Pulling out my big bowls and pots, I mentally assessed if I actually could wash, cook and put away all the peas I had lugged into my kitchen. You know when kids' eyes are bigger than their stomachs? I was that kid at the farmers' market! I bit the bullet and bought the -- what are they? 10 pound tubes ?-- of bulging, shelled lady/cream peas and pink-eye peas. With a small fortune invested, I had to make good on the challenge.

And it worked.

I slaved over a hot stove, tackling more peas than ever before in my life, and I found some perverse delight in being able to do so. Call me crazy.

With summer on its last leg, it might have been my last chance to earn my stripes in the kitchen doing something our Southern women forbears could and did do each week. And with a new-found interest nationally in canning and such (I don't know how to do much, I confess) I felt downright up-to-date in my pursuit!

And as I rinsed, cooked and cooled peas (did I mention there were LOTS of peas?) in my kitchen, I felt anything but alone. Revived and energized, I felt my brain synapses firing rapidly and displayed an industriousness that belied the deadly heat outside. It was a kitchen extravaganza to be sure.

I get these bursts from time to time....this consuming zeal to get in the kitchen and turn out some good food. And then I go for days or weeks dulled by the routine of meals. Such is the case for my spiritual life, I realize.

Sometimes I bolt out of the starting gate of each day with enthusiasm and vigor and a commitment to abide in the Scriptures for that day's sufficiency. Other days, I am not as fervent, and find myself coasting through, as though I can dip back and draw from the reserve tank of last season's spiritual fuel to carry me on the journey.

Like manna in the wilderness, God provides for us daily. All that we do can become acts of gratitude. Or, we could become hoarders, seeking only to promote our own comfort and convenience through our own efforts and fail to acknowledge the giver of all gifts.

I'm thankful that the Lord's provisions are vastly much more dependable than my own initiatives. God doesn't operate in fits and starts, in on-off bursts as I do in my kitchen.

God's grace is always operating to draw us unto the Father of all mercies. God's mercies are new every morning and the table is always set with a feast before us!

O, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who trusts in God. Psalm 34:8

1 comment:

  1. Marita, I love this post! I ,too, bought way too many peas to put up in a day's time but managed to do it just as you described. God's grace is so good!