Diary, The Writing Life

Frozen Food & Poetry

Because of the numerous restrictions in my everyday diet, I brought my own food on the 1800 km drive from PEI to Ontario which I made this Wednesday and Thursday. In Drummondville, Quebec, I took my breakfast (and “second breakfast” of spinach soup) up to the fridge in the hotel room, but I left the 2 coolers (big blue and little blue) in the car. This is so much easier than travelling in June, when my boyfriend and I had to mess around with ice, take all the food upstairs, get new ice in the morning, and make sure everything stayed cold, I thought to myself. It’s winter, so of course the food will stay cool in the car. Well, Thursday morning was -14, and I don’t know how cold it got during the night; suffice it to say that the food was frozen solid when I encountered it again in the morning light. Not a problem for the container of chicken and asparagus, which I warmed to pleasantly cold by placing it on the floor on the front passenger side for an hour or so. But have you ever eaten semi-frozen hardboiled eggs? The whites become something entirely different—almost like delicate layers of leather. I figured that they had the same nutrients as the usual eggs. They weren’t awful, but not something I would plan to eat again. 

The cucumbers that I’d peeled and cut into chunks also warmed up to a pleasing and crisp coldness after a time by the heating vent. It was the pickle-sized fresh cukes that really suffered, however. I had 6 or 7 of them along to eat when I arrived at my parents’ house and now that they have thawed it seems pitiful the way they bend when I peel them. And the taste…. The flesh is slightly bitter and very watery. They seem to say, We aren’t real cucumbers anymore—put us out of our misery and so I will.

Just now, eating slices of fresh and delightful cucumber from my mother’s stockpile, I thought about the simile that had risen in my mind: cucumbers limp as little boys’ penises. But then I thought (from my limited knowledge and babysitting memories), not that limp, not that soft. And I wondered about whether I could write a poem (an effective poem?) about it anyway—even though the small cucumbers are not quite like the little human appendages—there was something like enough to make me think about the connection, and there was something in that thought that brought tenderness. Yes, tenderness and solicitude to half a dozen frozen and thawed cucumbers in a plastic container with a light green lid.

The answer, of course, is yes. To the poem. What on earth is there to lose in trying it and so much to gain! I have no idea where the poem will ramble until I write it—out from the heat, into the cold, across 5 lanes of traffic, over the hill, around the bend, over the moon. I’m thinking It’s so strangely thrilling. And my heart is hot and glad for the fire of the creative life.

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