Everything that was green is now something else, the landscape shifting from breathtaking to November.
Dan is singing his melancholy rendition of cold November pears, (suspiciously reminiscent of Guns’N’Roses: Cold November Rain), while shuttling another 20 pounds of pear “seconds” out of the root cellar and into the house. Apparently we bought 150 pounds of pears a few weeks ago. Yes, 150. They were so well priced and we were having a bit of “pear-scarcity mind,” though it’s a little like the cartoon where the woman reports to her husband that fur coats were on sale, so she bought one, saving them $100! He replies, “why don’t you go buy nine more and we’ll save enough for rent.”
Pears are now the answer to everything: Do you need a snack? A sweetener for the cookies you’re baking? A wedding gift? Although, Rose told me this morning, “I don’t like the way Daddy’s hiding pear sauce in the oatmeal.” It’s pretty rough around here at the child sweatshop.
By 5pm all bets are off; it seems clear that any ambitions that involve wearing a bra, shoes or a social smile should be abandoned. The outside world is off limits and I’m happy to narrow my focus to the contents of this house: Col, Rose, Dan, elk sausage, turnips. Inside, I roam a small culinary triangle, spanning kitchen stove, cutting board and fridge, a place where everything seems to make sense. So, I invent projects in the kitchen, or elevate yogurt-making into the status of holy act, while Col conducts interviews to determine if Rose can adopt a doll named Kit; Rose waves a $500 monopoly bill at him, hoping to influence the proceedings. And, even if I forget all my aspirations towards peaceful communication, I can still produce dinner.
Kitchen project #543: sauerkraut. Those little specks are caraway seeds, not fleas. Phew.
The turnips, which multiply sneakily in the fridge, becoming *more* food nobody actually likes.
Cold frame arugula is one of the best things about November, plus the weekly cutting of which that I get to call gardening.
Kale muscling its way through November.
After dinner we play board games. I got this text from Dan yesterday: Need big wine 4 winter boardgames. Indeed. We bought Dan the game Carcassonne: hunters and gatherers for his birthday, and are still learning how to play (not sure if the wine helps or not). If your family likes board games, this list is the holy clearinghouse of board games.
Rose would like us to foster dogs in our home, or buy her a piano, or have a friend sleepover every night, but will settle for wearing the mom-sized nightgown she snuck out of my giveaway pile, while dancing to Pandora’s Kids Christmas Favorites (which I highly recommend you stay ignorant of), feeling such bewildering happiness that she’s apt to spontaneously sweep the floor and make Col’s bed.
And, Col? Oh, he is working out some profound and courageous life lessons…in, um, the lego pile. I know. We’re not exactly Tiger Mom in our expectations around here. But, I am infinitely cheered to see him fiddle around for hours, carrying out a construction vision, which includes test fits, trial and error, patient and skillful problem-solving (often, while dangling upside down on the couch), and finally, after a few days of satisfied completion, he passes the creation to Rose who is eagerly awaiting the gift. (He has been known to say, “Rose I would appreciate it if I saw you actually playing with the house you inherited”).
Otherwise, there’s indoor hackysack, which the kids and I were bumbling through happily, until someone coughDancough announced that he played tons of hacky in high school and college and began to impose rules on the game, like you can’t actually catch the hackysack in your hands. Stickler.
I’ve been reading like crazy, partially due to the happy occasion of waking up regularly at 5am and finding nobody needing anything from me. Books I’ve enjoyed: Hyperbole and a Half (I think Col and I shook the house laughing at this cartoon-style memoir, particularly the dog stories. If you are reading to kids, beware the R rated language), Living Nonviolent Communication (This book is revolutionary in billions of ways, only partially because when Col threw his shoe at the wall angrily, I was able to easily interpret his feelings and needs without taking his behavior personally, and from there healing is possible). And did you know the amazing Mary Karr has a new book out: Art of Memoir. (Gorgeous, illuminating, inspiring and one of those books I’ll likely buy). The kids just finished Farley Mowat’s, The dog who wouldn’t be, which though a bit sophisticated, is knee-slapping lovely memoir about a boy who raises a mutt and a pair of owls.
What are you reading, dear ones?
Root cellar sampler box.
If you need me, I’ll be reading and eating a cold, November pear.