Pardon my absence. Several things have conspired to keep me away!
After struggling for about a week with a dislocated rib, I wandered out to the garden the other day. Where, just the day before, had been gorgeous, tender baby collard greens, I found leaves full of holes and pitiful stems with no leaves at all. I was appalled!
Further investigation revealed caterpillars. Exactly the same color as the leaves and sitting just along the vein that runs from the stem up into the leaves. And, on the back, babies just waiting to get bigger and even hungrier.
The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar this was not!
After about a half hour of hand plucking the little devils and sprinkling about a cup of diatomaceous earth (Organic. You may not want the details…), I headed back to the house, oddly unsettled.
I’ve been on the caterpillar warpath every day since then. Not my favorite pastime, but this was food! Food I’ve planned and built beds and waited for. Food I imagined in my favorite apple green bowls, steaming and comforting.
Then, today, Bill and I spent a couple of hours cleaning out the freezers. My ribs still hurt and this is not an activity I’ve ever looked forward to, but we have turkeys coming soon and there has to be a place to put them. Oddly, I learned a lot!
In addition to watching my collards disappear, we’re short on stock and beans. We are not, however, short on ham hocks and pigs’ feet. In fact, I seem to be hoarding them, which was kind of an odd thing to notice.
As we sorted and shuffled and occasionally bid farewell to packages with no name or date, I began to ponder.
I’m not much of a pantry person. We don’t eat much that comes in cans or boxes. Mostly, I stock beans and lentils and organic canned tomatoes. A bit of tuna. The occasional can of anchovies. Frozen okra. Celtic sea salt. Dog treats. That’s about it.
So what was up with the hocks and feet?
Two things, I realized. First, our old freezer died early in July last year. We lost all of the frozen beans and soup bones of various persuasions. I was somewhere past weirded out!
The very next day, we were out buying a new freezer. And the very next day after that, I was out begging my farm and butcher friends for bones.
Apparently it worked!
Second, Carl Jung was right!
Jung, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, wrote often of what he referred to as the collective unconscious. According to Jung, there is a river-like stream of symbols and metaphors and wisdom which runs from member to member of a given species, existing before and after any of us as modern individuals.
I’ve come to think of the collective unconscious as the power behind the inbred wisdom that causes newly hatched baby birds to react by hiding frantically from the silhouette of a predator bird projected on the ceiling over their nest.
Apparently, there is a collective unconscious imperative to store food.
It seems I have some stock to make.
And, from there, batches of Tuscan white beans and black-eyed peas and lentil soup.
I can imagine my grandmothers, back through the generations, growing and storing, preserving and celebrating food. I can imagine them giving it away to those who had less. And I can imagine them stopping every now and then to wonder at the impulse from deep inside that guided them.
I really haven’t gotten much done this week. Somehow, I seem to have learned a lot anyway!