Monday, May 16, 2011



Today is: rain, clean laundry in four piles, planting potatoes and getting very wet, chipping away at a mound of work, three cups of Constant Comment in a row, matching coffee cups (after much discussion), checkers on the kitchen floor, a couch pulled away from the wall for an army base; little-boy faces begging for leftover birthday candy; spreading grass seed on the paddock at 6 am; wearing a comfortable shirt to yoga class; deciding to keep Molly forever; having no schedule besides an early bedtime; pasta boiling on the stove. 

Today is: good.

A few months ago, in response to a part of the book, “Little Princes” that I really loved and insisted that she read, my friend started waxing enthusiastically about her camping stove.  In the book, Connor Grennan writes about a time at the orphanage in Nepal when he would bring home toy cars for the boys to play with. As much as they loved them, the cars were always smashed by the end of the weekend. The store-bought toys did, however, inspire the boys to make their own cars out of lids and soda bottles. They discovered that varying the water you put inside made them move differently. As an added bonus, because the boys built them, they could also repair them. What my friend admired most about her stove, she said, was that she could take everything apart. All the bits and pieces, as tiny as they might be, could be cleaned, repaired and replaced. And so, because I was interested, she brought it all to the Library so that I could see it for myself.

We sat in the backyard and she laid out all of the pieces while she told me how it worked. She described the whole process and how it changed the liquid into a gaseous state. Listening to her talk I suddenly wished that I had the power to transform from one to state to another that easily. While we chatted she decided to clean some of the pieces. It was so much easier to do, she said without kids clamoring around wondering when it was going to be time to boil the water for the pasta. After a long day of hiking it’s easy to see why the kids would be so focused on food. I find that food away from home tastes so much different than what you normally eat. I can only imagine that a meal cooked on a tiny stove made from ingredients you’ve carried in your pack as you made your way up hills and down into valleys must be oh so satisfying.

We talked more about the simplistic design of this type of technology. From there our conversation moved from stoves to wheelchairs her brother has helped to design for people in need to helping other countries. Even though it was still bright daylight I felt as if we were seated at a campfire in the evening on a warm summer night. The stove, though in pieces, was our center round which the conversation whirled and swirled. There was the warm glow of friendship as our voices became light as a gas, first wrapping round me and then lifting up into the sky.

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