Writing (and Cooking) in the Rain

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I’m in a bottle-green world, surrounded on all sides by the ladylike branches of cedars, with their slightly tilted wrists draped in green fronds; the fey posturing of ferns, raising their serrated arms in mock-alarm along the forest floor; the superior, elder stance of the Douglas fir.

A thousand or more shades of green: through the windows, looming over the skylights. And rain, endless, weeping, tapping, ticking, licking, sizzling rain.

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I’d forgotten about the rain. I’d neglected to account for its power over me.

Will I write? Will I research? This precious month of creative time is already trickling away in a ceaseless stream of rain.

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There is a novel, perhaps, its body slowly emerging from the pages of my writing book, the keyboard of my computer. There is another memoir, too.

It’s raining, I can write.

It’s raining, I can’t write; I must bake, or cook, or clean.

It seems there will be time enough for all versions of creativity. One General Store, no internet, no pub, no movie house (what was I thinking? Was I thinking I’d do nothing but write?)

How desperate I’ve been, these past eight months, to write. I started a writing group, with five fine, talented women: we drink wine, eat cheese, talk gently, insistently about how much we want, need, to write. (We called our group, Write or Die).

And I do write, but each word seems to emerge singly, awkwardly; each thought opposes the other; there is no cohesive narrative, not yet.

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The cooking, in any case, goes well. Cheese and roasted vegetable quesadillas for lunch; grilled chicken, potato salad and braised chard for dinner.The reading goes well. A delicious novel to read, Away, by Amy Bloom. Long, wandering conversations with Anti-Poverty Organizer, who has joined me for this first, chill, rainy week. I read her my small clumsy paragraphs, my angular sentences. It helps, to have an audience, even for this early stage.

I am here on this small island for a month. I have invited friends to visit. Taking a cue from The Feminist Lawyer’s 50th birthday sojourn two years ago, I require of my guests only that they bring ingredients and a recipe for a single dinner. Tonight, the Anti-Poverty Organizer makes Moroccan Lentil Stew.

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The rain has stopped for a time. Artie Shaw plays on the sound system. The sky, what I can see of it, is pure white. Anti-Poverty Organizer has gone out, to wander the trails, to give me space to write.

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And so I do.

Moroccan Lentil Stew

1 cup green lentils
6 cups cold water
1 tbspn olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small carrot
1 tbspn fresh ginger
1 potato
½ cup red wine
1 green pepper
1 tspn cumin seed
½ tspn ground coriander
1/8 tspn. Turmeric
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. canned tomatoes
6 sundried tomatoes

Sort & rinse lentils and place in soup pot with cold water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in medium saucepan; add onions, ½ tspn salt & a few pinches cayenne. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft, 7-8 mins., then add vegetables, another ½ tspn. Salt, and the rest of the spices. Cook for 5 mins. , then stir in garlic and ginger. Add sautéed veg mixture and tomatoes to the stewing lentils. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and salad. Serves 6.

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