sunday thought: the root
11/10/2010 § Leave a comment
Carrots, beets, potatoes and some tuber vegetable lay still and crossed on a roasting pan. They had been rinsed and scrubbed, leaving their bodies raw and vulnerable to heat. They were seasoned with salt and spiced with pepper, doused in oil and ready to ignite.
I cut their charred little bodies into pieces and added them to the mix of white turkey meat and white-bread stuffing, pouring slightly browned gravy on top. Something in the mashing of tastes makes sense to my palate.
Growing up on a farm, my family decided it would be reasonable to plant a vegetable garden. One spring, we bought an assortment of seeds for lettuce, carrots, and watermelons. We cut potatoes in two and stuck them in the earth. Come early summer, flowers bloomed from each plant. By mid-summer, some began to bear fruit.
Early one morning, I went into the garden to inspect our crop. The lettuce had been chewed to the nub. We assumed it was the gang of deer that hung around the lot. We put stakes into the ground and aluminum pie plates to crash in the wind, scaring away the opportunistic herbivores.
I inspected the watermelons, half expecting the tough skin to ward of wild nibblers. Still, there were holes in the baby balls of fruit, unripened flesh left exposed to fruit fly larvae. Our free range chickens used their sharp beaks to burrow into them.
Come fall, all we had left were the carrots and potatoes. Vvegetables from the earth. Some carrots had begun to mutate, doubled and conjoined beneath the soil. The potatoes had multiplied, a family of tubers, dirtied and calloused. Tasting them was sentimental, knowing that any nutrients had come from our soil, our land, the one we worked and lived upon. It gave us food for the day, provided us supper so that we could keep living for the next.
At a coffee shop, nostalgia started with Bruce Springsteen.
Driving along Highway 7 towards the Ottawa Valley with “I’m on fire” playing on the radio, and the morning show “Humble and Fred” driving my dad to K-Mart, and my Chinese grandfather who I don’t remember but manufactured memories of, and a touch of Native blood from my great-grandfather, and a British-born-Canadian-claimed father, and a mom who hung around the Italian and Jewish communities in Toronto because she wasn’t white and she wasn’t Chinese, and a sister that was my quiet rock, and 34 Ebby Avenue across the street from my best friend Michelle Baksh, and my uncle from Guayana telling me how they used to take the heads from fresh killed chickens and feed it to the dogs, and French Immersion, and punching my pony in the nose, and late night 3-hour talks with 3-way calling, and a best friend who’s house always smelled of spicy tofu, and a newfoundlove of Latin culture, and cheese and wine and pate and mashed potatoes and pork chops with soya sauce and meatloaf and grilled cheese with ketchup.
Where do I come from? You see, it’s more than when a man loves a woman.
Sometimes you have to figure out where you are coming from to know where you are going. Sometimes you need to remember these things before you douse yourself in doubt and set one’s image in flames.
Sometimes, it takes some time.