Our friends gave us a chicken they helped process–complete with errant feathers clinging to goose-pimpled skin–which I roasted for a holiday dinner before making enormous amounts of stock from its carcass. I poured so many quarts of golden, oily broth off those bones it became the proverbial clown car where you think you’ve decanted the last bit of marrowy richness from the old, boiled-over bones, and then another freezer bag of chicken stock steps out of the tiny Volkswagen soup pot.
This is often called frugality – the effort to extract more than expected out of something. Like when–during the kids’ afternoon naptime–I run a second round of boiling water through the spent, morning coffee grounds for a cup that isn’t as much robust as it is propping up.
This too, is how Col and Rose live – wringing juicy, succulent moments out of the thin, bland air of ordinary days. Though for them it’s not frugality, no, not at all; it’s more like they’re auditioning for a role in Mary Oliver’s breathtaking poem, The Summer Day, where Oliver famously inquires, “tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
It’s morning and Col is perched up on the back of our couch casting a long red ribbon to Rose who is lurching around the floor on her belly gulping at the dangling line. “I’m fishing!” Col shouts cheerfully. And it’s not that this game is winning any award for cleverness, or that its shelf life will exceed the next five minutes. But, there’s delight in what bubbled up from the resiny depths of their wild, collaborative minds on this blank slate of morning. This game that requires exactly one leftover Christmas ribbon.
“Now lets switch Coley,” Rose suggests. And Col, not to miss the pleasure of gasping after a grubby ribbon while writhing through cat hair, slides onto his stomach and snaps after the fishing line.
Later, I set down a rubber-banded assemblage of paintbrushes on the table and Rose abandons her cookie-eating to squeal, “oooh, paintbrushes! Which one do you love best, Coley?”
I wish I could summon that kind of awe for paintbrushes, or even our garden-dwelling cat-faced spider whose daily whereabouts the kids tracked like secret service this past summer. I wish that, like them, I could spin wonder out of an ordinary day like brilliant skeins of wool. But I take heart in their rapture, delighting in their delight as if it were my own, and so it becomes.
Meanwhile, the sun not yet up, I can think of nothing more creative or interesting to do than make coffee and read the paper, as I’ve done for the past 4380 mornings in this house. It’s like I’m reading from a script that never changes while the children live in a fanciful Choose Your Own Adventure book.
But I am pretty happy about my chicken stock.