Writing (and Cooking) in the Rain


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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