After the Storm

11 Oct

I like to think that time is like an ocean – a vast, endless expanse of blue stretching out in front of me.  Most of the year, I wade happily in the shallows of that metaphoric ocean, feeling the sun-warmed water lap against my skin, noticing the small waves that ebb and flow past me.  But each fall, while I am busy studying how my feet look underwater, and the interesting way that the current pulls at bits of sand on the ocean’s floor, a towering, whitecap-topped wave appears – boom! – right in front of me, then engulfs me, sending me tumbling, tail over teakettle.  I get salt water up my nose and sand ground into my hair, and when I finally find solid ground beneath me, and manage to stand, vast swathes of time have disappeared. I find my balance, catch my breath, thank God that I’m all right, and then – boom! – another waves hits, and I’m tumbling again.

These waves are called the Jewish holidays – Rosh Hashanah, followed a week later by Yom Kippur, followed, four days later, by Sukkot (which starts tomorrow night).  I love the holidays, but I am never prepared for the time and space they consume.

This year, the crescendoing waves of holidays combined with a miasma of coughing, aching, feverish virus germs to create a kind perfect storm in my life, one that sucked day after day into it.  It has been nearly two weeks since I have had the focus and breath and energy to compose anything more than a grocery list.  Two weeks, also, in which I have not practiced singing or tried to be friendly, or organized a plan for October’s new activity.

But I am back on my feet, in the brief calm before the coming Sukkot wave, determined to tackle October.

I have decided to spend this month (or what’s left of it, anyway) becoming a goddess.

A domestic goddess.

One of those people who hangs bundles of picturesque dried herbs tied with lovely, delicate ribbons from her kitchen cabinets, then pinches off bits of said herb bundles to make tea, which she serves to her guests with warm, home-baked bread and raspberry jam made from raspberries plucked from the berry bushes in her yard.

Because I have only a few weeks left – and the eight-day holiday of Sukkot still to contend with – I recognize that it’s not realistic to achieve full goddessness, so I’m aiming for partial goddess status.  Specifically, am going to focus my domestic-goddess-development on two goddess-worthy activities: learning to bake bread, and learning to can.

It is late in the season for canning, but I have hounded my friend Andrea, a canning artiste, into carving out a morning later this month to can beets together, and I’ve signed up for a pickling class in Brooklyn.  I have a tentative bread-baking date with Alexis, who makes the most wonderful whole wheat, cardamom-flavored challahs, and I’m casting about for other bread bakers to apprentice with.

Now I’m off to decorate the Sukkah


7 Responses to “After the Storm”

  1. Sally Prangley October 11, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Oh, my dear Cathleen, just look into the mirror and see what those around you see: the Cathleen Goddess– a wonderful wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend (to a select group but on the rise!), appreciative foodie (really, why bake it when others already do?), with huge resolve to try new things in her life. If that’s not a goddess, I don’t know what is.

  2. Karen October 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    I have one of the world’s easiest / best recipes for challah and am happy to share it with you. Also, given my years as a potter, I’m a whiz at braiding loaves — remind me to describe it to you. Hope you’re completely recovered

    • Cathleen Barnhart October 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

      I will take you up on the challah recipe. Does it come with a challah-making lesson?! And, yes, I am finally feeling well. Will see you on Thursday!

  3. Louis Greenzweig October 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    I envy your ability to compile a flowing stream of consciousness. Feel better and enjoy every moment. Be foolish, be funny and most of all be yourself!

    • Cathleen Barnhart October 11, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback and positive support, Louis! And thanks for reading!

  4. Vincent Park October 16, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Again, poetical!

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