Saturday, May 8, 2010
Years ago when M and I lived in Pittsburgh, our friends sent me a pottery wheel for Christmas. It was a secret desire of mine and I had not breathed a word to anyone about it. To this day, thinking about it reinforces my belief that there is indeed a Santa Claus. I made many tiny pots with this wheel, using an air dry clay rather than a kiln to harden them. When working with clay, I happened upon a technique that would allow me to put ridges on the outside edge of each piece. Once I discovered it, everything clicked. Nothing had to be perfectly smooth in order to be finished, or, in our eyes, beautiful. We are not a smooth family - our peanut butter is always crunchy and the placid surface of a pond always begs for stone skipping ripples. We like a little texture, don't mashed potatoes taste better with a few lumps? But sometimes what I want and what I need are vastly different. When I am feeling particularly prickly, bumpy and nubby only seems to rub me the wrong way. In a severe state of stress I find that stroking stones smoothed by the sea often soothes me.
We eat a lot of peanut butter in this house. Well, the boys - all four of them - eat a lot of peanut butter. I rarely eat peanut butter found outside the blessed confines of cookie form. Our peanut butter comes from...peanuts. At the Co-op we flick the switch, watch the peanuts funnel through the grinder, watch the butter squeeze out into our waiting plastic container. The boys tend to argue over who will flick the grinder's switch; occasionally they come to shoves and it all ends in tears. M tends to pay close attention and make the peanut butter even and neat all the way around the container. I tend to run off to grind coffee, pour olive oil and bag some rice and come back to a messy peanut butter catastrophe. Our peanut butter is not chunky, though flecks of nut can be discerned by the wise pallet. It's smooth, but not exactly smooth - it has definite texture, personality, wishes and dreams. Every batch is slightly different with its own quirks and inconsistencies - just like us.